In this issue of the Blood-Letter, we get to know Jim Wygant, polygraph specialist, learn the winners of this year’s Anthony Awards, have a chat with Barbara Tom of Murder by the Book, and hear about how FOM favorite Phil Margolin was honored by the Mystery Writers of America Northwest.

November 2011

BLOODY THURSDAY November 17th: Are They Lying or Telling the Truth?

Jim Wygant

Polygraph tests are routinely used to help law enforcement officers determine if a suspect is lying or telling the truth. Jim Wygant, our speaker at the November 17th Bloody Thursday meeting, has been a professional polygraph examiner since 1976. Over the years he has conducted more than 6,000 examinations, many of those on sexual issues. He has done over 140 examinations in murder cases. A majority of his clients have been defense attorneys, and he has worked for law enforcement agencies and probation offices. Prior to becoming a polygraph examiner, Jim worked as an investigator for the Oregon District Attorney’s Office and for the Oregon Attorney General. Since retiring, he occasionally administers examinations for the Federal Public Defenders Office and works on a few select criminal cases. Jim will discuss his long career and describe procedures used in the process, including pretest preparations, question formulation, countermeasures and chart interpretation.

Jim has also published a true-crime memoir, Confessions of a Lie Detector: years of theft, sex and murder, and two crime fiction books, The Spy’s Demise and Jessica’s Tune. His book of short stories, White Buffalo, and a book of poems, Gossamer Afternoons, are available as e-books.

We hope you will be able to join us for this event. The program will begin at 7:30 pm and will be held at Terwilliger Plaza in the White Auditorium. Directional signs will be posted in the building. The meeting is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the Terwilliger Plaza employee parking lots across 6th Avenue from the lower level entrance, and on Sheridan Street. Handicapped parking is available at the upper level entrance. Tri-met bus #8, Jackson Park, stops just in front of the lower level entrance. Click here for directions to Terwilliger Plaza, including a map which shows parking in the area.

Date: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 7:00pm

Location: Terwilliger Plaza, 2545 SW Terwilliger Blvd, Portland, OR

Back to Top

And the Winners Are…

The Anthony Awards were presented on September 18th during Bouchercon 2011.

Best NovelBury Your Dead, by Louise Penny

Best First NovelDamage Done, by Hilary Davidson

Best Paperback OriginalExpiration Date, by Duane Swieczynski

Best Short StorySwing Shift, by Dana Cameron

Best Critical/Non-FictionAgatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks, by John Curran

Back to Top

Murder by the Book: the Interview

By Jeannette Voss

Those of us who live in the Portland area are lucky to have a store devoted just to mysteries: Murder by the Book, on Hawthorne Boulevard. MBTB is active with FOM, bringing books for purchase when we have an author as our speaker, and offering a discount to current FOM members.

FOM: When did MBTB open for business?

MBTB: In April of 1983.

FOM: What location?

MBTB: 3729 SE Hawthorne Blvd. was the original location.

FOM: Who were (are) the owners?

MBTB: Jill Hinckley founded the store in 1983 and Carolyn Lane became a partner in 1984. Jill retired in 2008, and Barbara Tom, who has worked at the store for almost 20 years, became Carolyn’s partner.

FOM: Why did you choose to open a bookstore devoted to mysteries?

MBTB: Jill always said it was because she could never find enough mysteries to read!

FOM: How has the book business changed over the years?

MBTB: One of the biggest changes has been the move from the smaller, less expensive “mass market” paperback to the larger, more expensive “trade” paperback. Another change has been the expansion of choices offered to readers. There are over 100 titles published each month in the mystery field.

FOM: What services do you offer your customers?

MBTB: We pride ourselves on offering personalized customer service. Just give us a few clues and we will suggest just the book for you. Everyone who works at the store is an avid reader.

  • We carry new and used books, both hardcover and paperback, and give trade credit for books purchased from us.
  • We have an incredible selection of authors and often carry all of their books shelved in chronological order!
  • We offer a paid service that keeps track of your purchases so that you don’t buy the same book twice.
  • We host author events at the store (see more below.)
  • You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and read about new releases and upcoming events.
  • We love carrying mysteries for younger readers and hope to share our love of mysteries with a whole new generation.
  • If you can’t get to the store, we are happy to mail your books.
  • We provide a yearly list of our favorite books of the year.

FOM: Who gets to decide what books you order, and how are those decisions made?

MBTB: We try to provide customers with the choices, both in the type of book they read (a thriller, a cozy, a spy novel, etc.) and in the format (hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback). We order directly from publishers, and look over their catalogues for books from established authors as well as books by up-and-coming writers. We don’t have just one kind of customer, so we can’t sell just one kind of book. Sometimes we take a chance on something that intrigues us and hope that others will like it. New titles are ordered months in advance, usually before any reviews have run, so we have learned to trust our instincts about what will work in our store.

FOM: How do you get authors to do signings? Do publishers contact you or the authors themselves (or a combination?)

MBTB: There are a number of ways that we arrange events for the store. Sometimes an author’s publicist will contact us directly and ask if we are interested in hosting an event. There are authors who email or call us and arrange their own appearances. We also contact authors directly if we know that they have a book coming out, or let their publicists know that we are interested in having authors visit the store. After the initial contact, the challenging part begins, juggling the schedules of the authors and the bookstore.

FOM: What is a typical signing like?

MBTB: We offer two types of events at the store. Informal “meet and greets” are held during the day, and give readers a chance to meet an author, chat a bit, and get their books signed. We also host events in the evening that are more structured. At an evening event, the authors usually have a brief presentation, may read from their works, and answer questions from the audience. We make sure there is time for people to meet the author, have books signed, and visit with other readers. Of course, snacks are always provided!

FOM: Who typically gets the biggest crowds for a book signing?

MBTB: Our local authors tend to draw crowds, although some of our largest recent events have featured authors from Sweden (Camilla Lackberg) and Norway (Jo Nesbo). We’d have to say that Craig Johnson, a writer from Ucross, Wyoming, always packs the house whenever he pays us a visit.

FOM: What would you like people to know about your bookstore that I haven’t covered?

MBTB: The “mystery” genre is so much more than many people realize. Friends of Mystery does a good job looking at a wide selection of books for their annual award: traditional mystery, suspense, thrillers, crime fiction, etc. We are fortunate to have Northwest authors who are writing in such varied styles.

Our hours:

Monday-Saturday 10:00 – 6:30

Sunday 11:00 – 5:00

(503) 232-9995




Twitter: @mbtb


Back to Top

Upcoming Events in the 2011-2012 Bloody Thursday Season

Vanishing Acts

Back to Top

Phillip Margolin Honored by the Mystery Writers of America Northwest

by Bill Cameron

Rosemary & Thyme

On September 10th, Portland’s own Phillip Margolin – best selling author and longtime friend and supporter of the Friends of Mystery – was honored for his body of work and contributions to the mystery genre in the Pacific Northwest. In a ceremony held at Murder By The Book and Bazi Bierbrasserie in Southeast Portland, the Mystery Writers of America Northwest Chapter (MWA-NW) presented Phil with its prestigious Willo Award in recognition of his lifetime of achievement.

The Willo Award is named for longtime MWA Northwest member and two-time Edgar Award Winner Willo Davis Roberts. The intent of the award is to honor an author or member of the mystery community who has contributed with distinction to the Northwest mystery writing scene.

Phil has certainly done that. In addition to multiple appearances on the New York Times best seller list, Phil has received the Spotted Owl Award for his legal thriller Executive Privilege, supported the work of Friends of Mystery and other area literary organizations, and has been a longtime board member and President of Chess For Success, a non-profit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to school children.

As part of the ceremony, MWA-NW also recognized Murder By The Book for its ongoing commitment to crime fiction and for its support of authors local and from around the world. On hand to receive the honor were Murder By The Book’s Carolyn Lane, Barbara Tom, and Jean May.

Back to Top

Submissions Needed

Members and readers are encouraged to submit book or film reviews, comments on authors, and recommendations for books to read or questions about mysteries, crime fiction and fact. You can mail these to our PO Box 8251, Portland, Oregon 97207 or send to our email address at

Back to Top