Friday, December 26, 2008

Free Bookplate Offer

The last of the bookplates have been given away -- these are no longer available -- many thanks to all of you who asked for them! I'll try to do something like this again in the near future.


A large, signed edition of this book plate of Shade, the cemetery dog in The Messenger, is available free to those who are on my mailing list and fans of this blog.

These bookplates were designed by Sandra Cvar. Only a limited number are available, so for now, we'll only send one per household.

To receive a book plate, just send your name and address to this e-mail address:
burke.themessenger -- at --

replace the spaces and "-- at --" with the usual e-mail symbol.

This offer is void where prohibited.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Introduction to The Messenger & Tour Info

Starting today, I'm going to be telling you more about my newest book, The Messenger. And tomorrow I'll also tell you about an offer for those of you who faithfully read this blog or belong to my mailing list.

Q: When will The Messenger be published?
The official publication date is December 30, 2008. I've been hearing that some people are already receiving copies. You can order The Messenger on the website of your favorite bookstore, through Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers, or by calling your local bookstore. If you want a signed copy, many of the bookstores I'll be visiting on my tour will ship a book to you -- call to ask.

Q: What's it about?
The Messenger is a supernatural thriller. I'm going to tell you more about the characters, the story, and some of my research for the book over the next few days. You can also read about the book on my website. Here's a brief introduction to it, though — and skip the rest of this section if you really don't like any kind of spoiler!

Far below the surface of the Caribbean Sea, a salvage diver hears an eerie voice coming from the wreckage of a 19th century ship. The voice belongs to Adrian de Ville, who offers the diver power and wealth if he will pledge his service and help Adrian find Tyler Hawthorne. It's a bargain the diver comes to regret.

Tyler Hawthorne lives in Los Angeles. To all appearances twenty-four, he is in fact more than two hundred years old and nearly immortal. In 1815, as he lay dying of his wounds at Waterloo, Adrian offered him a memento mori ring, and the opportunity to recover and become The Messenger. Tyler has since had the ability to hear the thoughts of the dying in the last moments of their lives and conveys their final messages to their loved ones. With only a cemetery dog named Shade to bear him company, he leads a solitary and nomadic existence.

Now, in L.A., he finds himself drawn to a woman named Amanda Clarke, who has secrets of her own.

The dying give messages to Tyler, too, and lately they've indicated that his life is about to change. But will this change allow him to grow closer to Amanda, or bring him under the power of his old enemy?

Q: The Messenger isn't an Irene Kelly book -- does that mean you've stopped writing about Irene?
No. I'm working on a new Irene Kelly book now.

Q: Will you be on a book tour for The Messenger?

Yes. Here are the places I'll be:

Monday, January 5, 7 PM
Barnes & Noble Huntington Beach, CA

Tuesday, January 6, 7 PM
Mysterious Galaxy San Diego, CA

Wednesday, January 7, 7 PM
Poisoned Pen Scottsdale, AZ

Thursday, January 8, 1 PM
Book Passage Corte Madera, CA

Thursday, January 8, 7:30 PM
Books Inc. in The Marina San Francisco, CA

Thursday, January 8, TBA
M is for Mystery San Mateo, CA—stock signing

Saturday, January 10, 1 PM
Mysteries to Die For Thousand Oaks, CA

Saturday, January 10, 4 PM
Mystery Bookstore Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, January 13, 7 PM
Joseph Beth Cincinnati, OH

Wednesday, January 14, 7 PM
Books & Co Dayton, OH

Thursday, January 15, 7 PM
Joseph Beth Lexington, KY

Saturday, January 17, 1 PM
Book Carnival Orange, CA

Tuesday, January 20, 6:30 PM
Murder by the Book Houston, TX

Wednesday, January 21, 7 PM
Borders (Lee Summit) Kansas City, MO

Wednesday, January 22, 7 PM
Left Bank Books St Louis, MO

Be sure to keep checking the schedule page on my website for updated information.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


In the U.S., we've just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday. I have so much to be thankful for, and this holiday, which gives a chance to reflect on that, is one of my favorites.

As always, I thank my fans for their loyal support, and hope your own holiday has been fabulous.

And on the lighter side, here's something to make you smile!

Monday, November 17, 2008

At my feet

A few leaves, as one would expect on a November afternoon -- even a summer-hot November afternoon. But on the driveway today, the salt and pepper of ash. Fragments of distant trees, brush, and homes. Nomadic bits of ruin.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoke Gets In Our Skies

Raymond Chandler wrote a great short story about life in LA during a Santa Ana wind, "Red Wind." It's been a while since I've read it, so I don't remember if he mentioned the fires that seem to be the inevitable result. Perhaps fewer people had built homes in the hills then. But right now, in areas where houses have been built since before Chandler's time, people are being burned out of their homes, and wildlife areas are being destroyed.

Fortunately, our home is not in a danger zone, but if you live anywhere in the LA basin right now, you are probably getting a gray snow of ash on everything. The air smells as if you've got your head up a chimney. And the day has been darkened by smoke.

The photo above was taken many miles from any active fire, looking southwest (toward the coast), at two in the afternoon. The brown in the sky is smoke, and that blue stripe is what the day should have looked like. It seemed more like dusk than the middle of the afternoon.

For information on the fires : LAFD and this Fire Map.*

*This link has been updated -- the earlier map link was not regularly updated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is it a sin to love a computer?

My Macintosh G4 is dead. I'm sad about that.

It's not loss of data -- I'm probably going to be able to recover even the small amount that wasn't backed up. I haven't used it as my main computer for some time now. But it has been a part of my life since 2000, and made my life easier in a thousand ways.

Before I go on, I'm going to say a word about the other side, just to set something straight -- I really don't have a problem with those who love Windows. I say this because I've noticed that when we who are Mac users start talking about loving an Apple computer, we get profiled as maniacal worshippers who will not admit that there is anything to like about the competition -- seriously, there's this assumption that we're all rabid. Not so. I've used both systems, I like Macs better, but I don't feel the need to make a religion out of it.

The late G4 was one of a long succession of Macs in our home. I bought my first Apple computer when I was a graduate student -- an Apple IIe. I had used an Apple II and an Apple II+ owned by other family members, but this one was my own. It was a major investment for me on my student budget, but I loved it and made constant use of it. After I met Tim, our roommate's new Mac caught our attention. Eventually, we bought an SE/30 -- Goodnight, Irene, my first novel, was written on it. I loved my first laptop -- a Powerbook 100. We bought a Performa from a young computer salesman who is now a computer genius. Other Macs in the house have included a Mac Mini, a G5, a titanium Powerbook, and a Macbook. Although Tim talked me out of owning a Newton, we both have iPhones.

I loved the G4, though. For one thing, it was the only computer in the house that still ran OS9 (I refused to upgrade it from the last of OSX versions that would run Classic, and all the software that didn't make the transition. I do wish Aspyr would create a version of MahJong Parlor -- the real game, not that POS solitaire -- that would run on OSX.) There is software on it that runs peripheral devices, and those may need to be replaced now, too.

The guy at the Apple store (where I dragged the carcass in desperation) diagnosed the problem as the power supply, but said Apple doesn't stock repair parts for computers more than five years old. He also told me that hanging on to OS9 is "like living in a condemn house." This from the company that condemned it. For some of us, the historic has its value. But okay, I understand what he meant, and after all, I did move forward. We are using new Macs and Leopard in the house. I just liked the old Mac and all it offered before its power supply bit the dust.

And not just because of the OS. Many pages of novels and short stories were written on it. I communicated with many of my friends and fans using that computer. Any number of projects and organizations were aided by the work I did on it. When I think of the time spent sitting before it and its (at the time of purchase) futuristic two-ton monitor, I feel as if I'm saying goodbye to an old friend.

If I can't find a way to bring it back from the dead, it will be recycled. We'll have more room -- that monitor is a real space hog.

It is, ultimately, an object.

I tell myself that, and to just move on.

But the truth is, I loved it, and I already miss it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

We interrupt this blog for an important message


If you are eligible to vote in the United States, please take time to go to the polls.  Vote early if you live in a place where that's an option, or plan time to vote on November 4.  Don't kind of sort of think about maybe doing it at some point on Tuesday -- make the plan now!   Click on this Google map link to find your polling place.

I will return to give you all sorts of news and information about The Messenger, the upcoming tour, and other items of interest about my books and stories, but right now, this is message #1:


Friday, October 10, 2008

Train Twitter

I love riding Metrolink, and recently discovered that Metrolink is on Twitter.  So I signed on as a follower.  Frankly, I expected dull notifications.  But this is the first Twitter posting I received from them:
San Bern Line train 331 delayed 30 mins due to unruly passenger at Upland stn.  Passenger removed by local police.
And that, ladies and gentleman is the kind of thing that comes to mind when people ask me "Where do you get your ideas?"

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Messenger

I invite you to visit my Web site,, to see information about the new book, The Messenger. The site currently says it will be out in "December," but that's kind of misleading. Officially, at this moment, the release date for the book is December 30th, and you can pre-order it from online booksellers now for delivery then.   The tour for the book starts in early January.

All of that nitpicking aside...if you follow the link on my home page, you'll find information about the book.  And as on this blog -- some new artwork.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

first look at the new look

The new images at the top represent scenes from the new book, The Messenger.

Monday, September 22, 2008 - Outside a Mexican restaurant in Orange Co - Power plant #1, seen outside an LA vegan restaurant

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New forensic science class at CSULA

The California Forensic Science Institute is sponsoring a series of extended education courses at CSULA that are open to the public.  The first, "Basic Crime Scene Investigation," is a two-day course taught by Ruben A. Flores, a Supervising Criminalist at the LA County Sheriff's Dept lab.  He's also worked for the Huntington Beach PD and the LAPD.  

According to a course brochure sent to me by the CFSI, "...Students will learn the fundamentals of physical evidence identification, documentation, collection, and packaging.  Through class exercises and a fun homework assignment, students will get practical experience in the common methods of crime scene investigation...."

The course is scheduled for 11/15 and 11/22, 8:30 AM to 5 PM, and is limited to 25 students.  The course fee of $275 includes a booklet and other course materials.

Call the CFSI at 323-343-4900 for more information or to register for the class.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

About ten posts worth of random notes

Many thanks to Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy for letting me know about this gem.
My sister, Sandy Cvar, will be teaching "Introduction to Linocut" at the International Printing Museum on Saturday, September 13, 9:30-4:00. This will be an easy way to learn how to carve linoleum to make a print. You don't need to be an artist to have fun with this method of printmaking!

We loved our recent visit to the museum. Even if you don't want to try working with linocut, if you're in the South Bay area, stop by and visit them.
We just subscribed to HBO. Why? True Blood, which is based on Charlaine Harris's fabulous Sookie Stackhouse series. We are also looking forward to the next David Simon project.
Last few days have been hectic. Having finished proofreading The Messenger, I sent it back to my editor. Sandy has finished some graphics for the update of the Web site, and Madeira James is at work on the new look.

I made a trip to see my folks, was a party to -- won't bore you with the long story -- destroying the firmware on my dad's iPhone. (Yes, in their 80s, my parents are using iPhones and texting, using Maps, checking stock quotes, downloading apps for games and all sorts of other cool stuff. And yes, at that age, I hope I'm willing to take space shuttle trips or use whatever cool tech is available then.) So I took the phone into the Apple store in Costa Mesa, and with the kind and efficient help of Genius Bar genius Johnny, got it up and running again. So two trips out of town, but I got to see the parents a little more often that way, which is always a good thing.

One of these days I'm going to have to post something about the Skeptical Inquirer. Which may sound like a strange thing to say, since I've just written a supernatural thriller. But there you have it. I don't really believe there's a city in Southern California named Las Piernas either. Sorry if I just made anyone cry. But I also saved you gas money by preventing you from driving around looking for it.

Anyway, great article in the Nov/Dec 2007 issue (yes, I'm behind on almost everything) by Denis Hamel. It's about a quotation floating around the Internet and elsewhere, lauding astrology and falsely attributed to Einstein. You might say that you don't have to be Einstein to suspect that he probably didn't believe in astrology, but the hoax persists. Hamel's article not only shows that Einstein didn't author this "quote," but shows that even given proof that it's a hoax, some folks refuse to remove it from their sites. I'm not the first person to tell you not to believe everything you read online, right?

I'm going to do a little work for the Crime Lab Project and then get back to work on the new book. Follow me on Twitter if you want details from here.

Have a good one! And thanks, Vgan -- I'm also glad the world did not implode when they fired up the black hole machine today. Not that I was really worried.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Done with the galleys. Now on to the next item on The To Do List From Hell.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Nature's dust mop rides again

The contest is on.  

If you go to this site (aka ),
you'll see one of my dogs, Britches, wearing an attractive yellow leaf.

Britches is one of nature's dust mops.  He goes outside, and a little bit of outside comes back in with him.  If you have a dog or a cat that provides a moving sampler of nature on four paws, link to a photo from the comments section.  If you need an easy way to this, consider opening a account.  (As previously noted, I love -- makes it easier for me to blog, keep up with Facebook and Twitter, etc.)

No prizes.  Just my complete sympathy.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Planting the last two of seven California native plants I bought at Las Pilitas -

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The galleys for The Messenger have arrived!   It's always an exciting day when galleys are in, for several reasons --

The book starts looking like a book! Gone are the double-spaced manuscript pages, the ones I produced on my computer, and we're also past the stage when the symbols of copy-editing covered those pages.  This is the phase of production of a book in which those manuscript pages have been given over to the artistry of those who design and layout the type and pages -- the final look of the book itself.  If you can image an unbound book being photocopied, single-sided, you now have some idea of what galley pages look like.  The first time I see any book at this stage is a wonderful moment, a moment when the book-as-book comes closer to being a reality.

It's also the last chance I'll have to correct errors.  This is truly unnerving.  If you're an author, when you see your copy-edited manuscript (previous stage of work), you become aware that your brain filled in all sorts of things that your fingers did not type on the keyboard, and that you, until now -- despite numerous readings of screens and printed pages before now -- never noticed were missing or unclear.   So you work hard to stay focused while going over a copy-edited manuscript.  Then, thinking you've caught whatever problems you and a team of experts could catch, you mail it back.   A few weeks later, you see the galleys -- and yes, there is always something that has been missed by the folks who were looking for errors before now.   

You also know that despite your efforts and those of your publisher, some howlingly funny, boneheaded error will remain, and you will be hearing about it by e-mail within the first week after the book is published.

Galleys also bring a sense of urgency with them -- there is never a lot of time between when one receives them and when one's publisher wants them back.  So I'm off to work on galleys!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Enjoying -- brilliant idea!
Um...helps to put the right date for an event on one's blog. Previous post should read "September 6." Yes. Saturday.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Making prints

Not fingerprints, this time, but artwork.   

As some of you know, my sister is printmaker Sandra Cvar, who will be giving printmaking demonstrations at the International Printing Museum on Saturday, September 6th*, between 10 AM and 1 PM.  It's Family Printmaking Day, and Sandy will be demonstrating everything from potato prints to linocuts.  I plan on being there, and I hope you'll join in the fun if you're in the area.

The museum includes a collection of antique printing machinery.  Admission to the museum is $8 for adults and $7 children/students.  Pay at the door, but RSVP to Rachelle Chuang at 
bookarts --at--  (Convert that into an email address.)

The International Printing Museum/Book Arts Institute
315 Torrance Blvd
Carson CA  90745

*Not, as previously bumbled, 9/9.  Sorry about that.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Okay, forgive me for wearing my shades indoors -- I'm feeling too cool for the room. ;-)

The audio version of Goodnight, Irene is now available on iTunes!

Click here, or go to:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why I didn't feel the quake

I was here, not there. Hope all my friends in So Cal are okay.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Help find Jeddah

My friend Maria Lima says she loves working at Matrix Group International in those hours when she's not writing her great vampire series, and this story in the Washington Post gives one example why that's understandable.

Matrix is sponsoring the Help Find Jeddah Web site:

Jeddah, pictured above, went missing from her airline-issued kennel at Dulles Airport.  Her owner, John Weisner, is a U.S. Army soldier on his way to a year-long assignment in Saudi Arabia.   Weisner and his wife, Ronia, need your help to find their beloved dog.  Spread the word, and if you live in the Dulles area, please help in the search.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Audio Books!

I'm happy to say that two more Irene Kelly books — have been released as audio books by the wonderful folks at Recorded Books!

Sweet Dreams, Irene and Dear Irene, are now available unabridged on CD and audio tape. (Unabridged means the whole book is recorded — every page read.) Recorded Books offers sturdily bound CD and tape editions for libraries. For the average consumer, they offer several choices -- you can buy them as CDs, as cassette tapes, or you can rent them in either format.

As with the audio edition of Goodnight, Irene, Eliza Foss is the reader for these two.

Click here for information on ordering the audio edition of Goodnight Irene:

Click here for information on ordering the audio edition of Sweet Dreams, Irene:

Click here for for information on ordering the audio edition Dear Irene,:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sightings Near the Downtown Interchange

I was recently stuck in traffic in downtown Los Angeles when I saw the 1800Autopsy van, which didn't bother me until I realized it was traveling in the wake of the "training bus."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It sounds so much easier than writing them

Perusing the impressive biography of Andrew Malcolm on the LA Times political blog page, I came across this startling sentence:
He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four.

Friday, June 20, 2008

All well and good until it rains

My sister Sandra, who is an artist, spotted this cool blog post about an artist who doesn't just scrawl "wash me" on dirty car windows.

And if you want to see some of Sandra Cvar's work, click here:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Go crows!

A story from Reuters about my favorite birds, defending their homes. And wreaking a little havoc at the same time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cover for The Messenger!

Here it is -- there will be a few changes, but this is the preliminary cover for the new book, which will be out in January.

I'm on my way to Texas for the Southwest Chapter of MWA's writing conference, "Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats."  See you there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"The Fallen"

He watched her for a moment before he left for work, thinking that he could have drawn a map of her body, served as a kind of cartographer of every plane and curve of her surface, as it was not so very long ago. Jared McKay believed he could trace — strictly from memory — Catherine’s body as it had been, when he had been her explorer, eager to know the line of her neck, the curve of a shoulder blade, the dimple behind her knee.

These are the opening lines of "The Fallen," my newest short story, which is appearing in the August 2008 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (aka EQMM).  

Jared is a police detective who returns from leave to take an assignment on a surveillance job, looking for distractions from his troubles at a difficult time.  It's an assignment that will result in revelations about his own life, and the lives of those closest to him.

I find that Jared is still on my mind, many months after I finished the story.  I hope you will enjoy reading "The Fallen."

A couple of people have told me they've received their copies of the August EQMM magazine, so subscribers should have it in their mailboxes any day now. If you aren't a subscriber and want to see the story, I have information below about how to get the magazine.

Those of you who follow my short story writing know it has been a while since I've had a new one out. I fell behind on my novel manuscripts, so I had to catch up there before I set time aside to write a story. The most recent story was "Zuppa Inglese," really a novella, I suppose, which appeared in 2006 in Otto Penzler's Murder at the Racetrack.

As I've stated elsewhere, I love the short story form, both as a reader and a writer. I'm proud to be included in this issue of EQMM — the magazine has a rich and wonderful history, and here in the Burke household we continue to look forward to each issue.

Now -- for the promised info about getting a copy of the story:

If you want to subscribe to the magazine, you can do that online, at Dell Magazines' Mystery Place Web site.  I don't think the July issue information is up yet, so I'm not sure when they'll have information about the August issue, but you can get subscription information there, or subscribe on

If you don't want a subscription but want a copy of the magazine, there are several ways to get one.  

If you want an electronic version (many formats available), it should soon be available through Fictionwise.  The August issue isn't posted on Fictionwise yet, but I imagine it will be there soon.

You can find EQMM at many newsstands, at some independent mystery bookstores, and at retail outlets including the following:

B Dalton
Barnes & Noble
Eastern Lobby Shops
Gateway Newsstands
The Great Canadian News Company

Keep in mind that limited copies are available, so you may want to order one in advance from your local store.

Finally, you can also order individual copies as back issues from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.  Details can be found by clicking here -- see item #3.

If you do get a copy of it, let me know what you think of the story!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Overdue Update

I'm excited to say that The Messenger, my next book, is a step closer to actually being a book. The revisions are in, cover art is nearly ready (I'll put it up here and on my Web site as soon as possible), and it looks as if the publication date will be set for January, 2009.

As some of you already know, this book has a supernatural element. It has thriller elements as well, and I think those who read the Irene Kelly series will enjoy meeting Tyler Hawthorne and friends.

Especially those of you who love dogs. Wait until you meet Shade! I'll talk more about him, and the plot of The Messenger, very soon.

I'm also working on a new Irene Kelly book. That one will possibly be out in the fall of 2009. The main reason you haven't seen much of me here is that I'm trying to get two manuscripts finished this year -- hoping to make it up to all of you for not getting a book out this year.

I'll soon have a story coming out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, too. I'll give details about that and tell you how you can make sure you get a copy of it in my next post!

It was great seeing those of you who came to Mayhem in the Midlands. That's one of my favorite conventions, and next year I'll have the pleasure of serving as its toastmaster. The guest of honor is my good friend Dana Stabenow, so we'll have fun. When the 2009 registration links are available, I'll let you know.

Mayhem is held in Omaha. A lot of my extended family can be found in the midwest, so I arrived a little early, and drove through four states during my visit there. I saw cousins, aunts, uncles, and nieces and nephews. One day I joined cousin Martha Burke and one of her friends, artist Paula Fagan, for lunch in Kansas City, Missouri. We had lunch in the city's art district, at a fabulous place called Pizza Bella. Just down the street on Baltimore Ave is the historic TWA Building, recently restored, Moonliner II and all. You can see a better photo of it than the one above on this Wikipedia link, but this is one I snapped with my iPhone. If you have a chance to visit this part of the city, go!

This is a beautiful time of year to be driving past farmland, and some of the most lovely and serene vistas can be found in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I spent a lot of hours in the rental car this trip, and I think that part of the drive remains my favorite.

My next public appearance will be June 13-14, at the Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats Writers Conference, which is sponsored by the Southwest Chapter of MWA. If you live anywhere near Dallas, Texas, and are working on a manuscript, I hope I'll be see you at that event.

Now I'm going back to work on a manuscript of my own....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Malice Domestic

I hope to see some of you next week at Malice Domestic!

This convention is always fun and friendly, and of course, I love having a chance to visit the Washington D.C. area. This year's worthy honorees include Charlaine Harris, Lindsey Davis, Daniel Stashower, Peter Lovesey, and Elizabeth Foxwell. For a list of attending authors, visit this page of the Malice Website.

See you there!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Peter O'Donnell!

Today, April 11, is the 88th birthday of my greatly admired friend, Peter O'Donnell. He created Modesty Blaise and also wrote wonderful gothic adventure novels under the pen name Madeline Brent. To learn more about him, visit Modesty Blaise, Ltd.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Home again

At the end of March, Tim and I traveled to Buffalo, New York, to visit family there, and were saddened to learn that one of his aunts, the truly fabulous Jean Fancourt, was in the hospital. She died the day after we arrived. We loved her dearly, and our time with our Burke cousins was a celebration of her well-lived life.

After a few more days in Buffalo, where there was April snowfall, Tim went home and I went on to Manhattan. I made a visit to MWA headquarters, where Margery Flax is busy with both Edgar preparations and packing up the office to move to its new digs.

The next day I spent time with my editor, and with the publisher and the editor of my paperbacks. All kinds of news.

I'm happy to say that Pocket Books will be reissuing Bones.

I also learned that my next book will be out in early 2009. More details will be posted here re pub date, title, and about the book itself the next few weeks. For now, I'll tell you that this book is not part of the Irene Kelly series -- in fact, it's not crime fiction. Something new and different, but I hope you'll become as attached to these new characters as I have. Did I mention the dog? Okay -- more about all of that later.

I went from Manhattan to Pittsburgh. You've heard about some of that part of the trip in earlier posts. The Wecht Institute event was great, but I had to leave early, because one of my favorite librarians, Joyce Hensley, had asked me to be part of Literary Orange in California. So I spoke with my suitcase next to the dais, took a few questions, and hurried off to the airport. (Later I learned that Laura Lippman and I were probably wandering through the Pittsburgh Airport at about the same time. Although I missed seeing her there, fortunately Laura and I had a great afternoon together in So Cal, when she was here to sign her new book, Another Thing to Fall, at Book Carnival.)

Weather in Houston (where my flight connected) meant a delayed flight, so I didn't get into LAX until after 1 AM. But I was able to get home and to the event the next day, where I saw Patty Smiley, Naomi Hirahara, and other friends, including Joyce.

One other note about 2009 -- I'm hoping to get a new Irene Kelly novel out later that year. Working on it now. That probably means I won't be posting here on the blog quite as often as I'd like, but I hope you'll all be understanding about that.

As for future travel -- DC, Omaha, and Dallas are in the works. I'll be at Malice Domestic in April, Mayhem in the Midlands in May, and at Hardboiled Heroes & Cozy Cats 2008 in June. So if you are going to be at any of those events, please say hello!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cyril Wecht Institute at Dusquene University

I've had a couple of radio interviews here today, including a lovely hour spent talking to lively Lynn Cullen, talk radio host on WPTT.   I was also able to talk briefly to PJ Maloney on KQV.

This is all in preparation for the 8th Annual Forensic Science and Law Conference, presented by the Cyril Wecht Institute at Duquesne University.  The theme this year is "Where Fact Meets Fiction."

If you are anywhere near Pittsburgh between now and Saturday, come to this conference!   The faculty includes writers, hosts, and producers of CSI, Criminal Minds, Monk, Forensic Files, Autopsy48 Hours MysteriesTrace Evidence, Diagnosis Murder, and other television shows.  I'll be joined by writers including Robert Tannebaum, Ann Rule, Lee Goldberg, Jon Jefferson, and D.P. Lyle.  Leading forensic scientists and law enforcement experts, including Henry Lee, forensic pathologists Michael Baden and Cyril Wecht, former FBI agent and criminal profiler Mark Sarafik, law professor James Starrs, forensic psychologist Michael Welner, Judge Donald Shelton (who has studied the "CSI Effect") and many more.  There are still a few places left, so please call 412-396-1330 or register online here.  The cost is very reasonable, $35-75 depending on how many events you want to attend.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Pittsburgh Television

I'll be on WPIX's "Night Talk" show, hosted by Mike Pintek, tonight.  The program begins at 8 PM.  Viewers can call 412-333-PCNC to tell the station what you think of the topics discussed.  

This is in connection with my appearance at the Wecht Institute Conference, "Where Fact Meets Fiction."  Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Audio Books!

Exciting News! Audio Books!

Many of you have asked me if there will ever be a book on tape or other audio version of my books. I'm pleases to announce that Recorded Books is offering the first of the Irene Kelly books in unabridged form, read by Eliza Foss.

Goodnight, Irene will be available June 30th. You can order now. The recording will be available on both cassette and CD, and can be rented or purchased. See the Recorded Books Web site for more information.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Oddities of the Day

A school crossing guard holding a long conversation on a cell phone.  While holding up the sign, etc....Parents, don't you feel great about that?

A teaser for a local television news broadcast.  I swear this is what they actually said:
"We'll show you where an albino moose was spotted...."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Left Coast Crime in Denver

I hope to see you at Left Coast Crime 2008, which will be held in Denver, Colorado, March 6-9. The convention is honoring Stephen White, and Elaine Viets will be the Toastmaster. Those of you who have been to mystery conventions will realize why librarian Michael Masliah is the Fan Guest of Honor. In what I believe is a first, this convention also features a Celebrity Chef, Joanne Pence, and a Celebrity Singer, Parnell Hall.

You can learn more about the convention at its Web site,

If you want to learn more about where I'll be appearing in the coming months, visit the Schedule page on my Web site.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Return to Me

Those of you who have read my books know that missing persons cases are of particular interest to me. They've been a part of the series from Goodnight, Irene to Kidnapped. I've known people whose family members have been missing. Some still wait. It's a particular kind of hell.

One of the best stories I've seen on this subject is "Return to Me," by Stacey Chase, which ran in yesterday's Boston Globe Sunday magazine. Like most articles about the missing, most of its focus is on missing children. (I am all for making every effort to find missing children, who are so vulnerable. I just wish missing adult cases mattered more to us — the National Center for Missing Adults also needs your help.) Chase's article is well worth reading, and I hope you'll take the time to do so.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Sometimes, I actively seek out the ridiculous. In this particular case, I have it e-mailed to me every day:

Tarzan Classics -- one of the many denizens of the funny papers available through

Tarzan became a comic strip in 1929, about 17 years after Edgar Rice Burroughs's short story, "Tarzan of the Apes," was published. I think the current story running on is from the 1950s. I could easily do without Tarzan killing so many animals (happens just about every week in the old strips, but I don't think the present-day storylines are quite the same) and I do hope to heaven that no one tries to learn what Africa or its people are all about by reading the strip, but I admit that I smile to myself whenever my e-mail inbox shows that one of the strips has arrived. Why? Because they are just so ridiculous!

I got hooked on them when I decided that as hilarious as Dilbert is, I needed a little less realism. So I went browsing around on the site, and saw Tarzan, which seemed to fit the bill.

Soon, I opened an email containing a Tarzan strip in which the Ape-Man and his compatriots are carried underwater, unconscious, to a great depth by sea people who live in an underwater kingdom. Everyone is alive after this journey.

That's when I knew I had to see Tarzan every single day.

In the most recent episode, Tarzan has acquired a young boy as a companion (a story which is, in itself, rife with implausibilities) and they have climbed a sheer cliff and come across — as one does — dinosaurs that are eating "blind bats" as if they were flying popcorn. Tarzan and his companion are escaping by feeding large chunks of black granite to the dinosaurs in the hope that this will give them fatal indigestion.

A few days ago, Tarzan said of the giant prehistoric lizards, "This sight would certainly be difficult to prove to the world below."

Amen, Tarzan — King of the Apes and the Understatement.
They'd think you were crazy. But that's why I read you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ed Hoch

I am deeply saddened by the news (learned on Sarah Weinman's blog) that Edward D. Hoch, MWA Grand Master and undoubtedly the leading mystery short story writer of our time, has passed away. Ed's name is well-known to readers of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine — the most recent issue features one of his stories on the cover, and no other contributor could have been so integral a part of the magazine as Ed was over so many years.

He was incredibly imaginative. In addition to being extremely well-written, his stories often contained intriguing information, culled from research over a wide range of subjects. He respected his readers — I can't remember reading a story of his that wasn't expertly crafted.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend time talking with Ed and his lovely wife, Patricia, in recent years, and I treasure the memory of those talks. I consider the time I spend with Ed to be one of the great privileges that have come my way in my years as a writer.

Ed had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a genuinely good man, a generous and kind person. His example of giving back to the mystery community with his time and effort is one that we would all do well to emulate.

He will be greatly missed.