In this issue of the Blood-Letter: a preview of our November speaker Johnny Shaw, award announcements, Spotted Owl news, and more!

November 2013

November 21, 2013: Johnny Shaw

Rural Crime and the Importance of Setting

Friends of Mystery is pleased to welcome back Johnny Shaw, winner of the Spotted Owl Stan Johnson Award for Best Debut Mystery (Dove Season), and recent Anthony Award winner for Best Original Paperback (Big Maria) at Bouchercon 2013.

Johnny ShawShaw plans to talk about why he writes crime novels about the desert, and the importance of setting in his writing.

“All three of my novels (Dove Season, Big Maria, and the upcoming Plaster City) are set in and around the Imperial Valley of Southern California. I’ve lived in a bunch of different places after I left home when I was 17, so why have all my novels been set down there? What’s the importance of location?

“Sometimes it takes distance and time to see that the place where we’re from is actually interesting and unique, exotic even. And for me, the Imperial Valley is like no place on earth.

“It’s rural. It’s working class. It’s the desert. It’s on the Mexican Border. It’s home, even if I don’t live there anymore. Hot, dusty, and with just enough illegal activity and sketchy residents to be a great arena for crime fiction.

“And while the expression, ‘country noir,’ has been overused in the last fifteen years to describe any crime story not set in the city (and some set in the city), the history of crime fiction has always had roots in its rural past.”

Shaw received his MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA, and over the course of his writing career has seen his screenplays optioned, sold and produced. For the last ten years, Johnny has taught screenwriting, and has lectured at both Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.

He also acts as the editor-in-chief and is a frequent contributor for the online fiction quarterly BLOOD & TACOS, a loving homage to the men’s adventure paperbacks of the 1970’s & 1980’s.

Johnny lives in Portland with his wife, artist Roxanne Patruznick.

We hope you will be able to join us in welcoming Johnny. The program will begin at 7:30 pm at Terwilliger Plaza. 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.

Back to Top

Awards Galore!

In recent months many organizations have announced their selections for “Bests” in the mystery genre. Take a look and see how many you’ve read (or may want to read!)

Anthony Awards

(Bouchercon 2013)

  • Best Novel: The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
  • Best First Novel: The Expats, by Chris Pavone
  • Best Paperback Original: Big Maria, by Johnny Shaw
  • Best Critical/Non-Fiction Work: Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke.
  • Best Short Story: “Mischief in Mesopotamia”, by Dana Cameron

Macavity Awards

(Mystery Readers International)

  • Best Mystery Novel: The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
  • Best First Mystery Novel: Don’t Ever Get Old, by Daniel Friedman
  • 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
  • Best Mystery Short Story: “The Lord Is My Shamus” by Barb Goffman
  • Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award: An Unmarked Grave, by Charles Todd

Barry Awards

(Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine)

  • Best Novel: The Blackhouse, by Peter May
  • Best First Novel: A Killing in the Hills, by Julia Keller
  • Best Paperback Original: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, by Susan Elia McNeal
  • Best Thriller: The Fallen Angel, by Daniel Silva

Shamus Awards

(The Private Eye Writers of America)

  • Best Hardcover P.I. Novel: Taken, by Robert Crais
  • Best First P.I. Novel: Black Fridays, by Michael Sears
  • Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel: And She Was, by Alison Gaylin
  • Best P.I. Short Story: “Ghost Negligence”, by John Sheppird
  • Best Indie P.I. Novel: White Heat, by Paul D. Marks
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Loren D. Estleman

And Still More…

Thriller Awards

(International Thriller Writers)

  • Best Hardcover: Spilled Blood, by Brian Freeman
  • Best Paperback Original: Lake Country, by Sean Doolittle
  • Best First Novel: The 500, by Matthew Quirk
  • Best Ebook Original Novel: Blind Faith, by C.J. Lyons
  • Best Young Adult Novel: False Memory, by Dan Krokos
  • Best Short Story: “Lost Things”, by John Rector

CWA Dagger Awards

(British Crime Writers’ Association)

  • International Dagger (tie): Alex, by Pierre Lemaitre; The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, by Fred Vargas
  • Ellis Peters Historical Dagger: The Scent of Death, by Andrew Taylor
  • Debut Dagger (unpublished manuscript): Call Time, by Finn Clarke
  • Dagger in the Library: Belinda Bauer
  • Nonfiction Dagger: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, by Paul French
  • Diamond Dagger: Lee Child
  • Goldsboro Gold Dagger: Dead Lions, by Mick Herron
  • Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: Ghostman, by Roger Hobbs
  • John Creasey Dagger: Norwegian by Night, by Derek B. Miller

(The Goldsboro Gold Dagger is awarded for the best crime novel of the year. The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is awarded for the best thriller of the year. The John Creasey Dagger is awarded for the best new crime writer of the year.)

– Back to Top –

For Aspiring Crime Novelists

The next Debut Dagger Competition runs from November 1st to January 31, 2014. It is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. The first prize is 700 pounds and all shortlisted entrants will receive a professional assessment of their entries. Entry costs 25 pounds. For full details and an entry form visit or email The award is sponsored by Orion Book Group.

– Back to Top –

Spotted Owl Committee Hard at Work

Spotted Owl Committee readers, Kris Field-Eaton, Carrie Richards, Pete Scott, Marlyne Stucky, and Sheila Sweet are reading diligently those mysteries published in 2013 written by authors living in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the authors who are earning high marks so far are: Chelsea Cain, Warren Easley, Tom Hansen, Dana Haynes, Roger Hobbs, J.A. Jance, Mike Lawson, Barbara Corrado Pope, Dana Stabenow, John Talton, Ingrid Thoft, and Urban Waite.

The final decision will be announced in March.

Back to Top

Upcoming Mystery Events…


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

November 13-16: Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach, Long Beach, CA. GOHs: Simon Wood, Al Abramson, J.A. Jance, Edward Marston, Eoin Colfer, and Jeffery Deaver.


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

Back to Top

Member News

Friends of Mystery is happy to publish news and press releases from our members in our Member News section, with the following considerations:

  • The news must be related to mystery or true crime writing, films, and television, as well as non-fiction examinations of the mystery genre.
  • Friends of Mystery will not be able to edit announcements, and will publish them as provided.
  • Friends of Mystery will include one image with each announcement, if provided.
  • Friends of Mystery is not responsible for the content of news announcements, and we reserve the right to not publish any announcements which we feel will reflect poorly on the organization and do not advance the organization’s mission.

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