Anybody going to Bouchercon in Raleigh, NC this fall? Here's my newspaper column
Once a bookseller, a bookstore owner, a book collector, a book scout, and a book reviewer, you are always a book lover. I’ve done all these things…selling books online and in a brick-and-mortar store in a small Southern town, scouting for Midwestern mysteries for a Taos bookstore, writing book reviews since 2010, and collecting hardcover books, some signed, of my favorite authors. And I soon will be heading to the ultimate book lover convention-- the worldwide Bouchercon for mystery and detective fiction lovers-- in Raleigh this fall. This is the first time in its almost 50 year history that this international book festival will be held in the South.
Bouchercon is named for Anthony Boucher (1911-1968), who was an American editor/book critic and a writer of mystery novels and short stories. Boucher (rhyming with “voucher”) helped found the Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and, in the same year, was one of the first winners of the MWA’s prestigious Edgar Award for his mystery reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition, Boucher was awarded an Edgar for Outstanding Mystery Criticism in 1946 and again in 1950.
The Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention is held annually in the fall, each year hosted in a different city by a local group of volunteers. Only registered attendees nominate and vote each year for the Anthony Awards for excellence in mystery and crime fiction, including Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story, Best Critical Non-Fiction and Best Paperback Original announcing the winners on Saturday night of the convention. People who attend Bouchercon are fans, authors, agents, booksellers, publishers and other people who read and enjoy mystery and crime fiction. The first convention was held in Santa Monica, California in 1970. These annual events have been held successfully since 1970 and typically attract 1,500 to 1,800 attendees.
Here are the writers who are Guests of Honor for the Raleigh Bouchercon event:
Lifetime Achievement Recipient
: Margaret Maron
American Guests of Honor
: Kathy Reichs and Tom Franklin
International Guests of Honor
: Zoë Sharp
and Allan Guthrie
: Sean Doolittle
Local Guests of Honor
: Sarah Shaber
and Ron Rash
And here’s some “book” background on three of these favorite guests:
was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, grew up in Johnston County, and is the author of numerous short stories and more than 25 mystery novels to date. Her first series began with One Coffee With
(1981) featuring Sigrid Harald, a loner lieutenant in the NYPD whose policeman father was killed in the line of duty when she was a toddler. The second in the series Death of a Butterfly
(1984) is a Doubleday Crime Club selection and the most difficult of Maron’s books to find. I found a very good ex-library hardback in the 1990s with a fine dust jacket and had Maron sign it at a Sisters-in-Crime event in Greenville, SC. (She, like I, was pleased to hold the book in hand and see the beautiful cover.) There are eight Sigrid Harald titles.
Another series follows the adventures of Judge Deborah Knott, attorney and daughter of an infamous North Carolina bootlegger. Although Maron is probably the proudest of her 2013 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, I’m sure she also savors the awards for her first Deborah Knott novel. Bootlegger’s Daughter
(1992) won the 1992 Agatha Award for Best Novel and a 1993 Edgar Award, a 1993 Anthony Award, and a 1993 Macavity Award for Best Mystery. There are nineteen Deborah Knott titles; the last one Designated Daughters
was published in 2014.
is an American crime fiction writer and academic. Born Thomas Gerald Franklin in 1962 in the small town of Dickinson, Alabama, his first book is a collection of short stories Poachers
(1999). Of ten stories set in Alabama, the title story won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery Story. Franklin has written three novels, the third of which is Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
(2010) which won the CWA Gold Dagger Award and was shortlisted for the 2010 Hammett Prize, the 2011 Anthony Award, the 2011 Barry Award, and the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Mystery.
In my May 2012 book review of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
, I called the novel a Southern melodrama and wrote:
…this is a Southern tale set in rural Mississippi. It's September and grassy fields are filled with honeysuckle, goldenrod and thistle near woods of loblolly pine trees. Kudzu is running wild in gulleys along red clay roads. And then Tina Rutherford, a college student headed back to Ole Miss, goes missing. The folks in the hamlet of Chabot recall the time another girl disappeared. They remember the odd friendship of Larry Ott, a white boy and book nerd, and Silas 32 Jones, a black boy and baseball player, in the late 1970's. Larry Ott was the main suspect then in the disappearance of Cindy Walker, but he was never arrested. He has lived under a cloud of suspicion for twenty five years running his dad's garage the Ottomotive Repair. Sitting there day after day with no customers unless a traveler drops by with an overheated radiator or somebody going somewhere needs a quick brake job…
I am anxious to meet Tom Franklin and have him sign my fine hardback copy with fine dust jacket of his Gold Dagger winner. And I’ll ask him how he came up with the idea of naming Larry Ott’s mother’s chickens for First Ladies.
is an American poet, short story writer and novelist and the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University. Rash was born on September 25, 1953 in Chester, South Carolina and grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. His extended family has lived in the southern Appalachian Mountains since the mid-1700's, and it is this region that is the primary focus of his writing. In 1994 he published his first book, a collection of short stories titled The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth.
Since then, Rash has published four collections of poetry, three other short story collections, and five novels. His 2008 novel Serena
was made into a motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
Rash was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2008 and 2009. He won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2010.
I met Ron Rash at a book festival in my Carolina hometown in November 2000. He was a participant in the second Upcountry Southern Writers Festival that a University of Georgia professor, an antiquarian bookseller and I helped organize. Rash had written four books of poetry by then including my favorite "Eureka Mill." He was the only writer for the Festival that visited my bookstore that weekend: he signed all the books of his poetry at the store.
All the while I’m writing this column, I’m thinking that our beautiful River City of Jacksonville would be a perfect location for the second Bouchercon convention to be held in the Southern states. Unfortunately, New Orleans, LA will be the 2016 hosting city. What about the first convention in Florida? No, St. Petersburg, FL has that honor in 2018. But the host city is up for grabs after St. Petersburg.
Florida has some fantastic mystery and crime writers that need to be honored (see sidebar below). Who wants to propose Jacksonville, Florida, with its fine riverfront and hotels that could easily accommodate this famous international book festival? If I’m around in five or six years, I will gladly volunteer to help! A proposal has to be submitted by June 30 of each year to the annual Bouchercon board meeting.
After all, Jacksonville did host a Super Bowl! This is the super bowl of book festivals!
Some mystery and detective fiction writers who set
their novels in Florida
(selected and updated from www.StopYoureKillingMe.com
James O. Born
* Bill Tasker: agent of Florida Dept of Law Enforcement
* Tim Hallett: deputy and his K-9 Rocky in Florida
* Craig Burch: sergeant in Miami Police Cold Case Squad
* Britt Montero: newspaper crime reporter in Miami, FL
* Dixie Hemingway: sheriff's deputy, now a professional
pet sitter, in Sarasota, Florida (Series continued by son
* Alex Rutledge: freelance photographer in Key West, FL
Mary Anna Evans
* Faye Longchamp: a black archaeology student finding
artifacts on her plantation on North Florida's Gulf Coast
* Lupe Solano: private investigator in Miami, Florida
* Jack Swyteck: criminal defense lawyer in Miami, FL
James W. Hall
* Thorn: eco-avenger PI in Key Largo, Florida
* Non-series books set in Florida
* Gladdy Gold: Florida's Oldest Private Eye & her gang
of retirees, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
* Willie Cuesta: private investigator based in the Little
Havana section of Miami, Florida
* Jake Lassite: ex-linebacker turned lawyer in Miami, FL
* Steve Solomon: Coconut Beach bum, & Victoria Lord,
a Miami blue blood, squabbling law partners in Florida
* Dexter Morgan: blood spatter tech for Miami Dade
Police Department and sociopathic serial killer
John D. MacDonald
* Travis McGee: private eye in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
T. J. MacGregor
* Mike McCleary & Quin St. James: husband & wife PIs
* Mira Morales: bookstore owner in Tango Key, Florida
* Aline Scott: homicide detective in Tango Key, Florida
* Gail Connor: corporate attorney in Miami, Florida
(Kristy Montee [1950-] and Kelly Montee [1953-] )
* Joe Frye: the only female homicide detective in the
Miami-Dade Police Department
* Archy McNally: playboy private eye in Palm Beach, FL
(series continued by Vincent Lardo)
* Non-series books set in Florida
* John Deal: building contractor in Miami, Florida
* Helen Hawthorne: Florida society gal working a series of
minimum-wage jobs in the Dead End Job series
Randy Wayne White
* Doc Ford: ex-op marine biologist in Sanibel Island, FL
* Hannah Smith: fishing guide in Florida
* Daniel Turner: a homicide detective in Jacksonville, FL
* Holly Barker: former MP commander turned police chief
of small town Orchid Beach, Florida