In this issue of the Blood-Letter: a preview of Spotted Owl Winner Mike Lawson, award announcements, two debut mysteries to look for, and more!

September 2013

September 26, 2013: Kick Off Season 28 with Spotted Owl Winner, Mike Lawson

House Blood by Mike LawsonWe are pleased to be welcoming 2013 Spotted Owl winner, Mike Lawson, to begin our 28th season of Bloody Thursday events.

All Mike’s books (The Inside Ring, The Second Perimeter, House Rules, House Secrets, House Justice, House Divided, and House Blood) have been Spotted Owl finalists, with House Blood winning the Spotted Owl for 2013. Mike’s books are set in Washington, D.C. and feature Joe DeMarco, a lawyer who works for John Fitzgerald Mahoney, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mike’s most recent book is House Odds, #8 in his DeMarco series. He is also writing a new series featuring DEA Agent Kay Hamilton. The first book in this series is Rosarito Beach.

For over thirty years, Mike was a senior executive civilian employee of the U.S. Navy where he worked with high-ranking military officers and civilians in the Department of Defense and had dealings with numerous other government organizations and members of Congress. Mike and his family now live in the Seattle area.

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 lot 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.

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Elmore Leonard, Noted Crime Thriller Writer, Dies at 87

Elmore Leonard

Mr. Leonard was a prolific writer who started his career writing westerns. He had his first story published in Argosy magazine in 1951. He was presented an award by the National Book Foundation for his distinguished contribution to American letters.

Leonard’s books were adapted for both television and movies, notably Justified, Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, Hombre, and 3:10 to Yuma.

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Macavity Award Nominees 2013

The Macavity Award is named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). This award is nominated by and voted on by members and supporters of Mystery Readers International, as well as subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. Novels/stories were published for the first time in the U.S. in 2012. The winners will be announced at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in September.

Best Mystery Novel

  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
  • The Black House, by Peter May
  • The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
  • The Other Woman, by Hank Philippi Ryan
  • The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro
  • The Twenty Year Death, by Ariel S. Winter

Best Mystery First Novel

  • Low Country Boil, by Susan M. Boyer
  • Yestrday’s Echo, by Matt Coyle
  • Don’t Ever Get Old, by Daniel Friedman
  • Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, by Susan Ella MacNeal
  • The Expats, by Chris Pavone
  • The Last Policeman: A Novel, by Ben H. Winters

Best Mystery Non-Fiction

  • Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke
  • Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, by Paul French
  • In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, edited by Otto Penzler

Best Mystery Short Story

  • “The Lord is My Shamus”, by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder
  • “The Unremarkable Heart”, by Karin Slaughter in Mystery Writers of American Presents Vengeance
  • “Thea’s First Husband”, by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2012
  • “When Duty Calls”, by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder
  • “Blind Justice”, by Jim Fusilli in Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance
  • “The Sequel” (a novella) by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand Magazine, November-February 2012-2013

Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award

  • A City of Broken Glass, by Rebecca Cantrell
  • Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, by Susan Ella MacNeal
  • The Confession, by Charles Todd
  • An Unmarked Grave, by Charles Todd
  • Elegy For Eddie, by Jacqueline Winspear

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Willamette Writers Host Gregory Nokes

On Tuesday, October 1st, at the Old Church in downtown Portland, Willamette Writers welcomes local author, Gregory Nokes, who will speak to the membership about the challenges of researching obscure historical events and of contriving believable scenes in historical accounts.

Nokes, author of two recent histories of largely unknown events in the Pacific Northwest, will focus in part on the challenge writers face in obtaining accurate information about obscure historical events. Using his own writing in particular, Nokes will look at the importance of old newspapers, historical societies, museums, archives, and on-line sources, such as Wikipedia and He will also talk about finding people who should know, or might know, of particular events. For an important section of his 2009 book, Massacred for Gold: the Chinese in Hells Canyon (Oregon State University Press, 2009), Nokes contacted two elderly women who initially refused to talk with him, but eventually revealed information that provided the critical foundation for the book’s massacre narrative.

Massacred for Gold was rated a Top Ten book in the Pacific Northwest by The Oregonian in 2009 and is now in its third printing.

The meeting is free to members of Willamette Writers and full-time students under 22; non-members pay $10.00. 7:00 – 8:00 pm.

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Two Debut Mystery Novels To Look For

Both of these novels by first-time authors debuted with great reviews, and you may want to give them a try!

Norwegian by NightNorwegian by Night, by Derek B. Miller.

Sheldon Horowitz, an 82 year-old widower, has reluctantly agreed to move from New York to live with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway. Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses the murder of a neighbor and rescues the young son of the victim. They flee the scene, and try to make their way to safety. “A luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read.”

The Beggar’s Opera, by Peggy Blair.

A new series, set in Havana, Cuba. Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of Havana’s Major Crimes Unit, sees the ghosts of the victims of his unsolved cases. (Ramirez may have inherited Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), where the victim suffers from vivid hallucinations.) The case he is working on concerns Mike Ellis, a Canadian policeman, who is being held on suspicion of the rape and murder of a young Cuban boy, and the police have 72 hours to formally charge or release him. A great read that takes you into contemporary Havana.

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Upcoming Mystery Events…


March 20-23: Left Coast Crime 2014: Calamari Crime, Monterey, CA. GOHs: Cara Black, Louise Penny.


March 12-15: Left Coast Crime 2015: Crimelandia, Portland, Oregon.

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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. If you have suggestions of mysteries worth sharing, please contact the editor at: