Monday, January 29, 2018

The 2017 Agatha Nominees


Best Contemporary Novel
Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook (Crooked Lane Books)
A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
No Way Home: A Zoe Chambers Mystery by Annette Dashofy  (Henery Press)
Take Out by Margaret Maron  (Grand Central Publishing)
Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny  (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen  (Lake Union Publishing)
Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott  (Kensington)
Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery by Edith Maxwell  ( Midnight Ink)
The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal  (Bantam)
Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Novel by Renee Patrick  (Forge)

Best First Novel
Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery by Micki Browning  (Alibi-Random House)
The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop by V.M. Burns  (Kensington)
Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery by Kellye Garrett  (Midnight Ink)
Daughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles  (Red Adept Publishing)
Protocol: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery by Kathleen Valenti  (Henery Press)

Best Nonfiction

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström  (Mysterious Press)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards  (Poisoned Pen Press)
American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse  (Liveright Publishing Corp.)
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jess Lourey  (Conari Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay  (St. Martin’s Press)

Best Short Story
Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer  (Henery Press)
“Whose Wine is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman  in 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
“The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian  (Henery Press)
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor in Cost to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat (Down & Out Books)

Best Children’s/Young Adult

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino  (Polis Books)
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks 'Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan  (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson  (HarperCollins)
Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson  (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley  (Scholastic Press)

The winners will be announced at the Agatha Banquet on Saturday evening, April 28th.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Fictional Characters

Do they ever want to escape?
Climb out of the white pages
and enter our world?
Holden Caulfield slipping in the movie theater
to catch the two o'clock
Anna Karenina sitting in a diner,
reading the paper as the waitress
serves up a cheeseburger.
Even Hector, on break from the Iliad,
takes a stroll through the park,
admires the tulips.
Maybe they grew tired
of the author's mind,
all its twists and turns.
Or were finally weary
of stumbling around Pamplona,
a bottle in each fist,
eating lotuses on the banks of the Nile.
For others, it was just too hot
in the small California town
where they'd been written into
a lifetime of plowing fields.
Whatever the reason,
here they are, roaming the city streets
rain falling on their phantasmal shoulders.
Wouldn't you, if you could?
Step out of your own story,
to lean against a doorway
of the Five & Dime, sipping your coffee,
your life, somewhere far behind you,
all its heat and toil nothing but a tale
resting in the hands of a stranger,
the sidewalk ahead wet and glistening.

 - - -   Danusha Laméris

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Government Shuts Down - Again . . .

You, know. 

I really miss a government that does what's right for its citizens instead of constantly and consistently engaging in a never-ending pissing contest and a battle of "mine's bigger than yours - nyah nyah nyah." 

Get to work you whiny bastards. 

NEVER has there been a dumber, more childish, do-nothing White House than right now. 

Perhaps if someone living there looked out the window yesterday, or watched something on TV other than their usual news source, they might have noticed that there are a few people pretty unhappy with the state of things as they are right now. 

See all those people marching? 

Change is coming - not as quickly as most of us would like.

But, oh honey - it's coming.

The White House
Yesterday at 12:35am ·

Senate Democrats own the #SchumerShutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.

- A Statement by the Press Secretary

Friday, January 19, 2018

James Anderson

Two years ago, I happened across a book by an author I'd never heard of.

The book was "The Never-Open Desert Diner," and the author was James Anderson.

I talked about it endlessly (including right here),  because it hit me like a ton of bricks.

"Powerful" is, I think, a much over-used term when it comes to books.  And that's sad because it's the word that continues to come to mind whenever I think about "The Never-Open Desert Diner."

Powerful.  Lyrical.  Poetic.  Compelling.  Passionate.  Beautiful.

I wanted to share it with everyone I know.

And, I waited rather impatiently for the next Ben Jones novel by James Anderson.

Well, it's here and it was worth waiting for.

The title is "Lullaby Road."

Through the generosity and graciousness of my good friend, Lesa Holstine aka "Book Angel," I was able to interview Mr. Anderson for Poisoned Pen prior to his upcoming book signing.  You can read the interview here -

It's an interview I'm proud of and James gave us a little more of himself than I anticipated.

Read the interview, please, and then, if you haven't already, treat yourself to "The Never Open Desert Diner" and "Lullaby Road."

Here's the trailer for Lullaby Road.  Once you watch, you're never going to be able to resist reading the book -

Friday, January 12, 2018

Quilts and Memories

One of our gifts this past Christmas was a quilt from Donald's parents.

When we opened it, I cried.

And later I started thinking about all the quilts we've been gifted (or that we've gifted ourselves), and how many of them have made me cry.

Sounds silly.

Donald and I are both fond of "old stuff."

Digging around in old boxes looking for antique locks and keys makes Don Barley a happy boy.

Finding a reasonably priced piece of old white ironstone makes me a happy girl.

Old oak furniture graces our home and makes it feel warm.  We've had a lot of fun over the years searching out the pieces that we both have fallen in love with and felt would be "just right."

Donald inherited his love of old tools and old butter molds from his dad. 

He inherited his love of old quilts from his mom.

And I inherited my love of old quilts from my mom.

Each quilt has a memory or a story.  Each has comforted in the past, and comforts still - in a variety of ways other than keeping us warm and toasty on cold snowy days.

These quilts that hang over our bed bring me joy every single day.

The red Grandmother's Flower Garden was given to us by my mom.

It was originally a gift to her from me and my dad. 

Mother's friend, Iona Wheeler in Cambridge, MD helped us get this work of art.  

Iona's mother-in-law hand stitched quilts to sell, and my mom had always admired them, but the waiting list was long (and the quilts were more than my mom felt she could afford).  Daddy and Iona worked things out and when I was about 10, we gave her this for Christmas.  I will always remember the joy on her face.

When she decided it was my turn to have it, I cried.  And I cherish it.  I will always cherish it.

The Cathedral Window quilt hanging next to it is the quilt Don's mom gave us this past Christmas.  (yes, yes, I cried).  

This quilt has been with the Barley family for a long, long time.  I remember oh, so gently removing it from the bed when Donald and I would stay the night with them for fear of somehow damaging it.  It is,however, still as sturdy as it could possibly be, even after all these years.

The women making these quilts made them to be used - not just admired.

They made them to bring us warmth.

The quilts do that.  And they fill my heart thinking of the hands working those tiny stitches while private thoughts filled their minds.

These quilts hang on the wall downstairs on a quilt hanger Donald made for me.

The Wedding Ring quilt was a gift to us from my mom when we got married. 

Don's mother, Pearl, took Mother to see the woman who made it (the former wife of a former mayor of Roswell, GA) so she could choose the one she thought we'd love.

The one hanging next to it was a gift from Donald's folks one Christmas several years back.  They found it in an antique shop in the North Carolina mountains.  I don't remember the name of the pattern - - anyone know what it might be?

And this is a quilt we found on one our trips in the North Georgia Mountains.  It's not an old quilt, but the hand done embroidery in some of the quilting squares seemed to speak to us both.

And this one is one we stumbled upon in an antique shop, but I walked away because it was during the time we had just moved from Atlanta to Boone and didn't have two extra pennies to rub together.  Don Barley did a little bargaining and next thing I knew, we were owners of this proud piece, which I dearly love, and it hangs (when it's not wrapped over someone's legs) over the back of his Great Aunt Glady's old rocking chair.

And this one!

oh, my.

I do love this one.

It's a true Memory Quilt.

It's made from old Tshirts from concerts we've attended, and few other special memories.  

And made for us by my much loved, admired and respected, sister-in-law, LeeAnn Barley.

Did I cry?  Pfftttt.

Even though I knew she was making this for us, actually seeing it done, only guessing at how many hours she had spent doing this for us touched me deeply.


They're all about memories.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Day 2018

I'm all out of words of my own for bringing in the new year.  My only wish is for the removal of a man I believe to be an insane leader and that we can join together to vote out what I believe to be a corrupt congress.

Others' words are probably more appropriate on what should be a day of hope.

"[Today I want
to resolve nothing.]
I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold
blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it."
— Kim Addonizio, from “New Year’s Day”

New Year's Day by Billy Collins

Everyone has two birthdays
according to the English essayist Charles Lamb,
the day you were born and New Year’s Day—

a droll observation to mull over
as I wait for the tea water to boil in a kitchen
that is being transformed by the morning light
into one of those brilliant rooms of Matisse.

“No one ever regarded the First of January
with indifference,” writes Lamb,
for unlike Groundhog Day or the feast of the Annunciation,

New Year’s marks nothing but the pure passage of time,
I realized, as I lowered a tin diving bell
of tea leaves into a little ocean of roiling water.

I like to regard my own birthday
as the joyous anniversary of my existence,
probably because I was, and remain
to this day in late December, an only child.

And as an only child—
a tea-sipping, toast-nibbling only child
in a bright, colorful room—
I would welcome an extra birthday,
one more opportunity to stop what we are doing
for a moment and celebrate my presence here on earth.

And would it not also be a small consolation
to us all for having to face a death-day, too,
an X drawn through a number
in a square on some kitchen calendar of the future,

the day when each of us is thrown off the train of time
by a burly, heartless conductor
as it roars through the months and years,

party hats, candles, confetti, and horoscopes
billowing up in the turbulent storm of its wake.

from the book, "Ballistics," © Random House 2008