Crime Pays

mag-12Hunt-t_CA0-master180Judges for a debut mystery-writing contest sponsored by Minotaur Books and the Private Eye Writers of America chose Alaric Hunt as the winner, unaware that he had been in a South Carolina prison for the past 25 years serving a life sentence for murder. The award comes with a $10,000 advance and a guaranteed publishing contract. Working at the prison library in a maximum-security facility, Mr. Hunt hasn’t seen the outside world since the age of 19, and used episodes of Law & Order to describe the New York setting of his novel Cuts Through the Bone.  Author S.J. Rozan, who served as a judge, said: “The manuscript felt very accomplished. He clearly knew how to tell a story. The language and dialogue were fantastic.” Read more of this NPR story here.

Laura

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Hercule Poirot To Flex His Little Grey Cells Once More

THE THIRD GIRLAgatha Christie’s estate and HarperCollins plan to publish a new Hercule Poirot mystery next fall.  British author Sophie Hannah has been commissioned to write the new Poirot 93 years after he was first introduced in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  The Belgian sleuth was killed off in the final Poirot novel Curtain published shortly before Ms. Christie’s death in 1975.  The new book will be set in the late 1920s, but will not feature Poirot’s friend Captain Hastings. In a statement, Ms. Hannah said: “It is almost impossible to put into words how honored I am to have been entrusted with this amazing project — in fact, I still can’t quite believe that this is really happening! I hope to create a puzzle that will confound and frustrate the incomparable Hercule Poirot for at least a good few chapters.” Read more in this article. And check the EPL catalog for other works by Agatha Christie.

Laura

Happy National Coffee Day!

If you’re looking to justify your second or sixth cup of coffee this morning, then my friend, you’re in luck.  Today from Philly to Phoenix and St. Paul to San Antone java junkies are hoisting their ceramic mugs high in celebration of National Coffee Day.  For the next twenty-four glorious hours, you can feel free to throw caution to the wind and make that extra coffee run, upsize to the venti, and drink in all the holiday cheer.  Chances are good, however, that after sipping Americanos all afternoon you’ll need some way to occupy your time as you lie awake into the wee hours humming with caffeine.  So as our holiday gift to you, allow us to present the following coffee-related books and movies in honor of today and your future sleepless night.  Without question, these histories, mysteries, travelogues, and thrillers are sure to become part of your Coffee Day traditions for years to come.

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The Case of the First Mystery Novelist

The NY Times solves the mystery of who wrote the first detective novel.  Published in 1865, The Notting Hill Mystery received rave reviews from Victorian critics as it pioneered the popular new mystery genre. Until now, however, the author’s identity has never been known.

The Best Poetry of 2010

NPR’s picks for the top poetry volumes of last year are listed along with excerpts from each work.  In a banner year for poetry, the annotated list includes Terrence Hayes’ National Book Award-winning Lighthead (pictured right) as well as new volumes by Charles Simic and Kathleen Graber. 

You’ve Been Verbed 

The recent grammatical phenomenon of turning nouns into verbs is explored at length by The Economist.  Whether we’re friending, Googling, snowboarding, or texting, “verbing” is changing our language at hyperspeed.  Ben Franklin would not be pleased.

Barack in Bronzeville

Author Rebecca Janowitz presents a compelling argument for locating the future Obama Presidential Library in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.  Though Hawaii is already making it’s pitch, a Bronzeville site offers tremendous possibilities.      

Elementary, My Dear Readers

The Conan Doyle estate has asked author Anthony Horowitz to write a new Sherlock Holmes book for adult readers to be set in traditional Victorian London.  Read more in today’s NYT article.  (Laura H.)

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Hail, Santa, King of the Elves! 

Gift wrapped from McSweeney’s comes this clever collection of letters to Santa written by Shakespeare characters including Hamlet, Ophelia, Macbeth, and Falstaff.  Who new Romeo and Juliet were such big Taylor Swift fans?     

A Cult Writer’s Cult Writer

The life and works of reclusive True Grit author Charles Portis are examined in this fascinating NY Times feature.  As the Coen brothers’ readapt his masterpiece for the screen, learn why the western writer might just be the most original talent overlooked by American literary culture. 

Jeeves Was Framed

The origin of the mystery writing cliche “the butler did it” is traced by the Guardian to an obscure 1930’s English novel.  Is it possible that Jeeves and his colleagues aren’t the bloodthirsty maniacs we’ve assumed them to be?      

Christmas in Audio

Audiobook super-narrator Scott Brick tells the touching Christmas tale of how vaudeville comedy, vinyl 78’s, and his great-grandfather Jim inspired his chosen career path.