Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Arthur Ellis Awards Short List is announced!

Best Crime Novel:

A Criminal to Remember, Michael Van Rooy, Turnstone Press

Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny, Little, Brown UK

In Plain Sight, Mike Knowles, ECW Press

Slow Recoil, C.B Forrest, RendezVous Crime

The Extinction Club, Jeffrey Moore, Penguin Group

Best First Crime Novel:

The Damage Done, Hilary Davidson, Tom Doherty Associates

The Debba, Avner Mandleman, Random House of Canada

The Penalty Killing, Michael McKinley, McClelland & Stewart

The Parabolist, Nicholas Ruddock, Doubleday Canada

Still Missing, Chevy Stevens, St. Martin's Press

Best French Crime Book:

Cinq secondes, Jacques Savoie, Libre Expression

Dans le quartier des agités, Jacques Côté, Éditions Alire

La société des pères meurtriers, Michel Châteauneuf, Vent d’Ouest

Quand la mort s'invite à la première, Bernard Gilbert, Québec Amerique

Vanités, Johanne Seymour, Libre Expression

Best Crime Nonfiction:

Northern Light, Roy MacGregor, Random House

On the Farm, Stevie Cameron, Alfred A. Knopf Canada

Our Man in Tehran, Robert Wright, HarperCollins Canada

Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book:

Borderline, Allan Stratton, HarperCollins

Pluto's Ghost, Sharee Fitch, Doubleday Canada

The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz, HarperCollins

Lost For Words (The Worst Thing She Ever Did), Alice Kuipers, HarperCollins

Victim Rights, Norah McClintock, Red Deer Press

Best Crime Short Story:

In it Up to My Neck, Jas R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

So Much in Common, Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The Big Touch, Jordan McPeek,

The Piper's Door, James Powell, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The Bust, William Deverall, Whodunnit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction


Best First Unpublished Novel:

(Unhanged Arthur)

Better Off Dead, John Jeneroux

Uncoiled, Kevin Thorton

When the Bow Breaks, Jayne Barnard

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Those Who Fight Monsters

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives

Edited by Justin Gustainis

An anthology can be a tricky assemblage. A strong theme can result in stories of a similarity that wears on the reader, while a weak theme leaves disconnects from one story to the next, gaps that allow the reader's attention to leave the book entirely. Editor Justin Gustainis found a good balance with 'Those Who Fight Monsters.' All stories have a monster (or more than one) and a detective, yet each stands alone in respect to characters and plot.

The detectives cover the gamut from hard-boiled PI's giving - and getting - low blows on the mean streets to intellectuals expounding on crime in refined quiet rooms. Sleuths include the demon-fighting soccer mom trying to shepherd her daughter safely past demon-snares as well as the normal risks of adolescence, the disgruntled Security sorcerer who battles bureaucracy as well as beasts, and other detectives both amateur and professional.

The paranormal elements are equally varied. In addition to the usual vampires and werewolves, there are demons of compelling variety and more than one style of shape-shifter. Snakes, ugh. Fairy-tale creatures such as gnomes and fairies also appear. The detective isn't necessarily chasing a monster, nor is the monster always the villain. The settings are mostly urban, mostly modern, with an overlay (or underbelly) of fantasy elements.

One reservation about this collection was that some authors presumed a familiarity with their series work and left me faintly lost at first, while others seemed to be trying to fit several novels' worth of back story into the opening paragraphs and slowed the pace accordingly. Apart from that disparity, the collection was a joy to read and introduced me to several paranormal/mystery crossover authors I'd not heard of previously but will certainly follow up now.

All in all, these fourteen stories provide plenty of meat for both the detective-story aficionado and those fascinated by paranormal fiction. And, if you've ever pondered the fictional detective as a reflection of archetypes, Gustainis' introductory essay is a treat.

Jayne Barnard

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives Edited by Justin Gustainis Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing March 2011 Available in both trade paperback and electronic formats.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Advance Review: The Witch of Babylon

You know you’re in good hands with an author when, half a page into the prologue, you are bewitched to the point you forget what century you’re in. The return to the book’s current reality (2003) half a page later was a brutal but effective wrench; it assured my intense interest throughout the remaining 370 pages.

But enough about the writing.

‘The Witch of Babylon’ is at once a complex art-history mystery centered on biblical scholarship, a breath-stealing thriller set in the early months of the Iraq invasion, and an intellectual exploration of links between Mesopotamian myths and European alchemical processes. Not to mention the archaeological journeys into subterranean realms. Oh, and a personal journey of growth by a spoiled young art broker after the death of the older brother who has always shielded him from consequences.

This is a square-on hard stare at the murky world of antiquities looting and trading. Add a soupcon of travelogue flavour over the streets of New York City and various parts of the Middle East, and there is much to enjoy about this book.

‘The Witch of Babylon’ was short-listed for a Debut Dagger in 2007, and won an Arthur Ellis award for Best Unpublished Crime Novel in 2008. It is being released by Penguin Canada in Spring 2011 and (at last count) has sold rights in 15 languages around the world.

My ARC was sent by the author, D.J. McIintosh, after my bugging her for three years to be allowed to read the full manuscript. When it finally arrived I read the whole book in a sprint, with only meal breaks, and will now read it again more slowly, to savour the unfolding story.

‘Witch’ is the first book of The Babylon Trilogy.

Jayne Barnard

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Speaker and Announcements

Hi, Inksters and Friends

Apologies if you're getting multiple copies of this announcement over the past week. Some mail servers are currently rejecting mail from our mail host due to spammers (not us) abusing the system.

April Speaker: Susan Calder on the post-sale editing process. Susan's first mystery novel Deadly Fall was accepted for publication last spring. She was immediately assigned an editor and plunged into the process of whipping the novel into publishable shape. Susan will share the joys and challenges of working with your editor after the novel's acceptance. 7 p.m. on April 14 at Owl's Nest books.

This month's guest blogger is Alberta playwright, personality and YA mystery author Marty Chan, encapsulating for those of us who missed his AWCS workshop the rationale behind his low-key promotional style.

Meeting Marty Chan

Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlist Event 2011

Join us for the announcement of the shortlist for Canada’s national award for crime writing. Hear author readings by local mystery writers Jayne Barnard, Susan Calder, Linda Kupecek and Garry Ryan. Come and join the conversation.

Presented by Calgary Public Library and the Crime Writers of Canada.
Thursday April 28
Calgary Public Library
Central Library
Main Floor
New and Notable Area
No registration required

In other news:

The Alexandra Writers' Centre Society Spring Session begins April 20th with a wide array of courses, workshops and weekend intensives. Included this session are 8 week courses in Creative Writing, Novel, Short Story, Humour, and Writing for Young Markets with Shirlee-Smith Matheson. Last year's INK speaker Caroline Russell-King offers a weekend intensive in playwriting; INK member Susan Calder will teach a Dynamic Dialogue workshop on Saturday, April 23.

For a full course list and more information visit: or phone 403-264-4730.

The Shuswap Writers' Festival takes place May 27-29 in Salmon Arm, BC. This year's presenters and workshop leaders include mystery authors William Deverell and Michael Slade.

And TWO short story contests upcoming:

The Wolfe Island "Scene of the Crime"

• Contest open to Canadian citizens or those resident in
Canada and not previously published in the mystery or crime
fiction genre.

First Prize: $100 Second Prize: $50 Third Prize: $35
Contest Guidelines

• Adult category: 5000 word limit, prizes: $125, $100 and $75, plus two honourable mentions $25 each
• Student category (author is under 18 years old): 3000 word limit, prizes: $75, $50 and $35 plus two honourable mentions $20 each

Prize winners announced at When Words Collide a festival for readers, writers, artists, and publishers of imaginative fiction — Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, Romance and other genres.

August 12-14, 2011 in Calgary, AB.

REMINDER: If you have news or upcoming events of general interest to Inksters and other Calgary-area mystery writers and readers, send them to for inclusion in the next e-nnoucements.

Jayne Barnard
Mystery Writers Ink