In this issue of the Blood-Letter: a preview of our January 2017 guest Nick Slosser, reading suggestions for the cold winter, new mysteries, and more!

January 2017

For Bloody Thursday, January 26, 2017, We Welcome Nick Slosser

NICK SLOSSER is an Oregon native who holds a degree from Willamette University and a graduate degree from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is now a private investigator, working primarily in juvenile defense investigation. Before that, Nick worked for ten years at Murder by the Book until the bookstore closed in April 2013. His stories have appeared in Blood & Tacos, Shotgun Honey, and The Third Flatiron. His first book, The Cipher, features a Bletchley Park codebreaker and takes place in Portland, Oregon, where Nick now lives with his wife and daughter.

Please join us at The Old Church in downtown Portland (1422 SW 11th Avenue). This event is free and open to the public. A reception (with cash wine bar) begins at 7:00 pm, followed by our program at 7:30 pm.

Murder by the Book lives on through their website and book blog. This review of Slosser’s book was posted by Barbara Tom when the book came out in December of 2015:

The Cipher by Nick Slosser

When Nick Slosser and I worked together at Murder by the Book in Portland, his preferred reading material was very hard-boiled and noir. I was surprised to read a very early draft of this book and see that it was an old-fashioned mystery. Now that I have read the final work, I can say that there are no drug cartels, piles of dead bodies, swear words, or heavy violence. In fact, one of the two scenes of violence is funny and polite. The other scene is incredibly brief, no hanging of lurid description upon lurid description.

In 1955 Portland, Oregon, Professor Leland Truffault and his assistant, Jo Johnson, are minding their academic business in linguistics and mathematics when, in the best amateur detective fashion, their peculiar talents are required by the Portland police to solve a murder.

Della Van Croft, gossip maven and society wannabe, was poisoned at her own wine tasting party. Each of the five guests brought a bottle of wine, which was then disguised and assigned a color code for a blind tasting. Van Croft died from arsenic introduced into one of the wines. One of the puzzles for Leland and Jo to solve is which bottle had it and who brought it. Unfortunately, the efficient maid has cleaned up the evidence. Only logic can provide the answer now.

Initially, however, Leland was brought in to unravel a ciphered message found clutched in Van Croft’s hand. The captain of police is an old mentor from World War II, the colonel to Leland’s cryptologist at Bletchley. Because of Leland’s experiences during the war, he is hesitant to become involved in what may contribute to the punishment of a fellow human. The war had a profound effect on the people who lived through it, and Nick provides moving examples throughout his book.

During the investigation the academic duo meet a smarmy restauranteur, a society wild child, an heiress and her husband, and a nosy neighbor. An who was the mysterious man who crashed the wine tasting? All the known guests claimed not to have recognized him.

Nick has created a clever mystery, with a fair-play plot and charming main characters. I hope you believe me when I say that I’m not inflating this review for the sake of a friendship. Nick showed his talent in the short stories he wrote while he was at the bookstore, and it was a pleasure to receive his long-awaited novel and find out it was worthy of his talent.

Nick is now a private investigator in Portland and, I hope, working on his next novel in the Leland/Jo series.

Of course, here’s an MBTB star!

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Reading Suggestions for the Cold And Snowy Weather

Brrrr, cold!

With all the snowy cold weather we’ve been having in the Portland area it makes one think of books by Scandinavian authors. Here are some suggestions.

Marilyn Katz, a long-time FOM member and former reader for the Spotted Owl Award shares her suggestions:

Perhaps because of my Norwegian heritage, I have become fascinated by the number of Scandinavian mystery writers. Recently I discovered the first Martin Beck mystery by Swedish writers Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

When a woman’s body is dredged from Lake Vattern, Martin Beck’s investigation begins blind – there are no clues. Who was she and who killed her and why? After three months all he has learned is her name and that she was a passenger on a cruise ship. Beck’s frustration with the time it is taking is physically and mentally painful.

Roseanna, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Other favorite authors: Liza Marklund, Karin Fossum, Camilla Lackberg and Kjell Eriksson.

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Mysteries Set in Denmark And Sweden

by Jeannette Voss

Blaedel, Sara. The Killing Forest. Sara Blaedel lives in Copenhagen and was voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time in 2014. Her bestselling series features Detective Louise Rick. When Louise returns to work after an extended leave she is assigned a case where a fifteen-year-old teenage boy has been missing for a week. The boy is from the area where Louise grew up, and as she works to find out what happened to him she also takes the opportunity to look into the death of a long-ago boyfriend. This book was published in 2016, and the next book in the series, The Lost Woman, is being published in February 2017.

Hammer, Lotte and Soren. The Vanished. The authors are brother and sister, and began writing crime stories together when Soren moved into the house where Lotte and her family lived in Denmark. They have written six books in the series, which features Detective Superintendent Konrad Simonsen. This book is the third to be published in English. A postman is found dead at the bottom of the stairs in his house, apparently an accident. As Simonsen investigates he begins to question that conclusion, and when he finds life-sized posters of a mystery girl hidden in the attic of the deceased home he and his team widen their search for the truth. This book kept me turning pages late into the night. It was published in September 2016.

Grebe, Camilla. The Ice Beneath Her.

Camilla Grebe was born in Alvsjo, Sweden, and has written five crime novels with her sister, Asa Traff. This book is her solo American debut. A shocking murder occurs in Stockholm, where a beheaded unidentified woman is found dead in the home of a controversial CEO of a clothing chain, and he is missing. The story is told from the point of view of several different characters: Peter Lindgren, a homicide detective on the case; Hanne Lagerlind-Schoen, a criminal profiler who has worked with the police before on a similar case; and Emma Bohman, a young clerk who works at the clothing chain and who had a brief romance with the CEO. The story is told in present day and flashbacks. A multi-layered story that will keep you guessing until the end.

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New Mysteries To Anticipate

Beaton, M.C. Death of a Ghost. The 33rd entry in this series. (February)

Crombie, Deborah. Garden of Lamentations. The 17th in the series. (February) She will be in Portland on February 17th at Powell’s in Cedar Hills at 7:00 pm.

Dugoni, Robert. The Trapped Girl. The 3rd in the series. (January)

Jance, J.A. Man Overboard: An Ali Reynolds Novel. (March)

Lawson, M.A. K Street. The 3rd in the series. (January)

Mark, David. Cruel Marcy. The 4th in this series. (February)

Parks, Brad. Say Nothing. A legal-thriller standalone. (March)

Thoft, Ingrid. Duplicity. The 4th in the series. (January)

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Membership Renewal

If you haven’t renewed your membership to FOM yet, please consider doing so. Dues are $20.00 annually. Friends of Mystery is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Dues and additional donations are deductible to the full extent of the law. Please send your check to: Friends of Mystery, PO Box 8251, Portland, Oregon 97207. Include your name, address, city, state, zip code, email and telephone. The newsletter will come to you electronically unless otherwise requested.

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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.

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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: