Saturday, January 23, 2010


ROBERTA: Now that the nominees for the 2010 Mystery Writers of America Edgar awards have been announced, I can stop worrying about whether I'm going to blurt out the names before I'm supposed to. (I served as the chair of the best novel committee this year.) We spent the last year sorting through almost 500 books to come up with this list, which I happen to think is wonderfully interesting and diverse:

THE MISSING Tim Gautreaux
THE ODDS Kathleen George

However, I could not wait to move on to reading something other than mysteries! This week I finished Mary Karr's memoir, LIT, and also Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP. Karr is a poet--an incredible writer--and the story she tells about her family, her drinking, and her recovery is devastating. I absolutely tore through The Help and can definitely see why this book is a huge hit: great characters, a fascinating story set in 1960's Mississippi, and tons of tension.

What are you folks reading?

RHYS: I'm reading Anne Hillerman's TONY HILLERMAN'S LANDSCAPE as I'm a huge fan of his books and have actually done this drive, visiting scenes of his various books. It's interesting to see it through the eyes of his daughter, however.
And in February I'm waiting for the new Connie Willis.

RO: I'm finally reading Olive Kitteridge, which I suppose every else has already read. But, it's slow going since I have no time to carve out a few hours, make a pot of tea and curl up in the big chair the way I used to, I have to grab ten minutes here and there, so the format is perfect for me...short stories that all connect with one character.

I scored some great books at ALA this weekend, but with the Australian Open and all the writing I hope to be doing, it may be a while before I actually get to read them - Precious by Sapphire, 212 by Alafair Burke, Life Sentences by Laura Lippman, So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, John Dies at the End by David Wong(isn't that a great title?) and The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern. Thanks to my pals at Harper, Workman, Random House and MacMillan.
JAN: I'm also reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which kept me up until 2 a.m. the other night. I just LOVE when book can take over my life that way. I don't want to do anything but read that book.

Next on the list Saturday by Ian McEwan, its supposed to be tough to get into but an awesome finish.

HANK: AH, Roberta! I know how you feel! I was a judge, too, in a different category, and we read maybe 100 books. It was really really tough. But fantastic. And now, I'm about ready to read ANYTHING else. (I can't wait for Alafair's 212 (we're now fellow board member of Mystery Writers of America, that's where I was this weekeend, but I am such a fan of hers) and for book one in Nancy Martin's new series. Plus, at ALA I got the new book by Alan "Sweetness of the Bottom of the Pie" Bradley. Cannot wait! But I MUST write.

HALLIE: I read "Sweetness" and loved it. And I just read "Wicked" which I've had set aside for eons and so looked forward to, as a huge fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. I finally got a chunk of time to read and I have to say, it was so NOT an easy read. Beautifully written. It was fun to be at the ALA meeting and see all the new books. Distressing, though, to hear a librarian say (as I signed a freebie for her) "My library has no budget for books." She comes to ALA for books to stock their shelves. How depressing is that?

ROBERTA: Hallie, that's awful. I hope you told her about the Sisters in Crime library raffle. And by the way, congratulations to Hallie for her Mary Higgins Clark Edgar nomination for NEVER TELL A LIE. And to Rhys for her Lefty nomination for IN A GILDED CAGE. We are so excited! Meanwhile, don't tell a lie, tell us what you're reading!


  1. Thanks for the great suggestions! My local book store will be happy to see me coming! I'm reading Alice Munro's latest short story collection, TOO MUCH HAPPINESS. The stories are wonderful, and of course I agree with those who say that Munro is the best working fiction writer in North America.
    Great posts, authors!

  2. What time frame do you have to read the 500 books and heck, how do you read 500 books? I read a lot (last year 120) but I've seen other readers list 246 and so on. How is it done? Do they send all 500 to you in dribs and drabs? My mind is just boggling -- in a good way I think. :)

  3. Pk, we're not allowed to disclose the details of the process--they'd have to kill me and all that...and being mystery writers, they know the ropes:).

    But yes, we did receive close to 500 books. Never thought I'd see the day when I groaned as the UPS man drove down our lane:)

    But it was so much fun and such an education, too.

  4. Belatedly THANKS, Roberta - I'm still pinching myself that NEVER TELL A LIE go the Mary Higgins Clark nomiantion

    Rebbie - lucky you! Alice Munro is THE master.

    Speaking of short stories - I hope everyone saw that Dana Cameron got an Edgar nomination for her short story FEMME SOLE in BOSTON NOIR - a very worthy collection of short crime fiction set in Boston.

  5. Roberta, I understand. Another question though: do some of the same people act as judges year after year or is it always a new group?
    Have you ever read Ruth Dudley Edwards' CARNAGE ON THE COMMITTEE? It is a darkly humorous take on being on a literary award committee and judges are being killed off.

  6. PK, that sounds terrific. And we can say--its new judges every year.
    And a special shout out to those on my committee--they were all fantastic and so hardworking!

  7. And yes, Roboerta, I agree. It was truly an education. What makes a book great? What makes a book--annoying? We saw it all...

  8. I was a judge, too, and also cringed whenever the UPS truck stopped in front of my house. But happy happy to be done with that.

    I just finished WOLF HALL, a wonderful Henry VIII novel that won the Man Booker Prize. Not a quick read, but I savored every wonderful word.

    Now reading Steve Hamilton's THE LOCK ARTIST and it's riveting. I love Steve's books, but I do think this is his best so far.

  9. Hey Karen, I've got Steve's book on my nightstand--eager to read it, as I've loved every one of his books so far. I looked at Wolf Hall, but not convinced I'll pick it up. Maybe once my eyes and brain are rested...

  10. I am a huge fan of Alice Munro's work.

    I'm currently reading Woody Holton's Abigail Adams, a biography, and very well-written it is, too.

  11. Thanks, Hallie, for the mention! I cannot say how thrilled I am about the nod for "Femme Sole"--it's been wonderful!

    And thank you, Edgar judging committees everywhere! I know from personal experience what a tremendous job it is, and how much hard work goes into it. Brava, and thanks for serving the MWA community.

    Right now, I'm reading Laurie King's A MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN. She's just superb.