In this issue of The Blood-Letter from Friends of Mystery: Cara Black, the Edgars, mysteries while sheltering at home, and more!

May 2020

Bloody Thursday: May 28, 2020, Postponed Due to Safety Concerns

Because of uncertainty of where we will be at the end of May, we are canceling our May meeting. Our guest was to be Cara Black, the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen books in the Aimee Leduc series. This spring her first stand alone, Three Hours in Paris, has been published to enthusiastic reviews. We have rescheduled Ms. Black to appear at our May 2021 meeting. Here is a preview of her book.

Book Cover: Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black

In june of 1940, when paris fell to the nazis, hitler spent a total of three hours in the city of light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

Cara black reimagines history in a masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Fuhrer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, she is on the run for her life—all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.

(Plot summary provided by the publisher.)

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2020 Edgar Awards Announced

Due to the pandemic, the Edgar Awards were presented via a live presentation on Twitter (@Edgar Awards) on Thursday, April 30th. The winning speeches can be found on the Mystery Writers of America YouTube channel. And the winners are:

Book Cover: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths


The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths


Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim


The Hotel Neversink, by Adam O’Fallon Price


The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, by Axton Bext-Hamilton


Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer


The Night Visitors, by Carol Goodman


Borrowed Time, by Tracy Clark

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The Edgar Process Explained

Our own Bill Cameron graciously answered my queries about the Edgar Awards process.

How are works nominated for the awards?

Mystery Writers of America LogoThe Edgars are given to books, short stories, and television shows in the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue fields by the Mystery Writers of America. They must be published or produced in the United States. Books are divided into novel, first novel, paperback/ebook original, and several youth categories. There are also nonfiction categories and special awards.

All submissions are made by the publisher or producer of the work, be it book, short story, or television episode. Presently, self-published works aren’t eligible. The submissions are vetted for eligibility by the national office of the Mystery Writers of America, though the actual works are often sent to the judges directly. When I served on the short story committee in 2013, I got packages several times a week with magazines and anthologies from their respective publishers. These days, judges may also elect to receive submissions as ebooks.

Once nominated, what is the selection process? Is it done by committee?

Each category has a committee of judges, usually six. The exact judging process is then decided by the individual committees. When I served, the short story committee agreed to read all entries independently. Each judge would then identify our list of contenders. My own contender list had 24 stories, and the other judges’ lists were of similar length. We then compared our choices and made a new list of those stories which appeared on everyone’s contender list. Our goal was a list of ten to twenty stories we all agreed were a possible winner. At that point, we each ranked the final list. The committee chair collated the rankings to generate a final list of five nominees with one winner, “The Unremarkable Heart” by Karin Slaughter.

Something that’s important to know is while my contender list was relatively short, the number of stories I genuinely enjoyed was large. It was very difficult to choose, even once the list had been narrowed down. Still, in the end, the choice of winner was unanimous. Karin’s story is incredible, and worth a read if you haven’t yet. It’s available in the anthology Vengeance edited by Lee Child.

How many works are usually submitted for judging?

Each category can vary significantly. The year I served, we had 488 total submissions. The Best Novel category may have that many books as well, though the entries in other categories may be less in number. No matter which category, it’s a lot of reading—though well worth it. I enjoyed the vast majority of the entries and in the end found the experience very rewarding.

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Prize Winning Books From Scotland

The McIlvanney Prize is Bloody Scotland’s annual prize awarded to the best Scottish Crime book of the year. It provides Scottish crime writing with recognition and aims to raise the profile and prestige of the genre as a whole. Scottish roots are a must for competition applications: authors must either be born in Scotland, or have lived there for a considerable amount of time, and their eligible book must be substantially set in Scotland. The prize was renamed in memory of William McIlvanney, often described as the Godfather of Tartan Noir, in 2016.

Previous winners include:

  • 2019 – A Treachery of Spies, by Manda Scott
  • 2018 – The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney
  • 2017 – The Long Drop, by Denise Mina
  • 2016 – Black Widow, by Christopher Brookmyre
  • 2015 – The Ghosts of Altona, by Craig Russell
  • 2014 – Entry Island, by Peter May
  • 2013 – How a Gunman Says Goodbye, by Malcolm Mackay
  • 2012 – A Foreign Country, by Charles Cumming

Book Cover: A Treachery of Spies by Manda Scott
An elderly woman of striking beauty is found murdered in Orleans, France. Her identity has been cleverly erased by the method of her death is very specific: she has been killed in the manner of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two.

Tracking down her murderer leads police inspector Ines Picaut back to 1940s France where the men and women of the Resistance were engaged in a desperate fight for survival against the Nazi invaders.

To find answers in the present she must discover what really happened in the past, untangling a web of treachery and intrigue that stretches back to the murder victim’s youth: a time when unholy alliances were forged between conqueror and conquered, deals were done and promises broken.

The past has been buried for decades, but, as Picaut discovers, there are those in the present whose futures depend on it staying that way – and who will kill to keep their secrets safe…

(Plot summary provided by the publisher.)

Book Cover: The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: the Quaker. He takes his next victim – the third woman from the same nightclub – and dumps her in the street like rubbish.


The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. DI McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation. But his arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider.


When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city – and his life – forever…

(Plot summary provided by the publisher.)

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In Memoriam

Maj Sjöwall

Sheila Connolly

Author Maj Sjöwall
Maj Sjöwall, who, along with her husband, wrote the Martin Beck series of ten novels, has died at the age of 84. She and her husband, Per Wahlöö, who died in 1975, were considered pioneers in “Nordic Noir”. Beck and his team of detectives worked in Stockholm’s National Homicide Bureau. Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s books were translated into forty languages.
Author Sheila Connolly
Connolly was the author of five mystery series: The Glassblowing Mysteries, The Orchard Mysteries, The Museum Mysteries, The County Cork Mysteries, and The Victorian Village Mysteries.

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Book Cover: House Privilege by Mike Lawson
Coming Soon . . .

  • House Privilege, by Mike Lawson (July)
  • The Darkest Evening, by Ann Cleeves (September)
  • The Searcher, by Tana French (October)

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Sheltering at Home Crime

by Jay Margulies

Now that I can consider myself to be virtuous, saving neighbors’ lives by staying home and watching mysteries on my smart TV, I want to help my friends to be virtuous. I’m now recommending a few mysteries available easily that I think will encourage you to stay home happily. I also want to ask for your comments on my suggestions and for your own recommendations. You can reach me at

My preferences are generally for murder mysteries with professional detectives, public or private, and political thrillers with corrupt politicians and ethical spies. (That sounds like Bodyguard, very good, recently the most popular show on British TV, now on Netflix. All series mentioned here are streaming on Netflix).

For a few months I’ve been recommending Unbelievable as the best short series on TV. This eight-part Netflix series begins harshly. The first episode focuses on the police discounting the young woman’s claim of rape. With the second episode, the tone changes, as a cop, Merritt Weaver (young nurse in Nurse Jackie, current star of Run), begins to believe and to investigate not just one, but a series of crimes. Episode Three introduces another cop, Toni Collette, and it’s binge watching the two of them from there on.

Another terrific but edgier short series (four episodes) is Collateral. Carey Mulligan investigates the murder of a pizza delivery man. It’s written by David Hare, one of England’s best writers.

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Membership Renewal

It’s never too late to consider renewing your membership to Friends of Mystery! Dues are $20.00 annually. FOM is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Dues and additional donations are deductible to the full extent of the law. Please mail your check, made out to Friends of Mystery, to PO Box 8251, Portland, Oregon 97207. Your newsletter will be sent electronically unless otherwise requested.

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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:

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