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Archive for the ‘A Life of Crime’ Category

I’m so excited that my story “Deep Freeze in Suburbia” is part of Heartbreaks & Half-truths, the latest crime anthology from Superior Shores Press, selected and edited by Judy Penz Sheluk.  It’s great to be among this amazing array of crime writers.

*****

Member of Parliament Dina Calder is flying high. As newly appointed Cabinet Minister for Seniors and Families, she’s on the star track in her political career.

Until a lurid paperback lands on her desk. Deep Freeze in Suburbia–the shocking story of the Misty Lockwood Murder. It’s a true-crime story from the past.

Her past.

There’s more than ice cream and frozen broccoli in there….

With the aid of Birkenstock, her know-it-all Parliamentary Assistant, Dina will do anything to hide her connection to this decades-old crime.

Anything.

 

Heartbreaks & Half-truths is the latest release from Superior Shores Press. Publisher, writer and editor Judy Penz Sheluk has done an excellent job with this project from start to finish.

*****

My story, Spirit River Dam  appears in the multi-author first anthology, The Best Laid Plans from the same publisher.

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Where to buy Heartbreaks & Half-truths and other anthologies with my stories.

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Recently I shared with you my line-up of Detectives in Miniature, many of whom keep me company in my office.

This time, I’m taking you on a tour of my miniature Crime Scenes.

Let’s start with one of the first mini rooms I ever put together, back in the 1980s. (Can that be possible?)  It started when I found a miniature revolver at a mini show and sale. Nothing spectacular. Cast metal, maybe 50 cents.  It made me think, hmmm, mystery? Specifically, my old paperback of Poirot Investigates.   So I found a key and started creating a crime scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I assembled many mysterious accessories and clues…

Then I found a suspect and, as you can tell from the Cards on the Table (see what I did there?), it was clear the answer to the mystery was….

Miss Scarlet, in the Lounge, with the Revolver

By the way, that’s the Haworth Rectory and churchyard out the window there.

The Road to Manderley

Some years later, I decided I wanted to reconstruct the library at Manderley. You know, Rebecca. Over a long period of time, I gathered all kinds of pieces, commissioned miniature animal artisan Karl Blindheim to create Jasper, the English cocker spaniel, and created both Mrs. Danvers and the second Mrs. de Winter. Finally, I designed a room box and had it made to order (spectacularly well done) by Gerry Brockhurst, a talented miniatures builder.

And since the library is Mrs. dWII’s quiet refuge, I decided to keep Mrs. Danvers out of there.

But she’s around, scheming….

Mrs. dWII, in the Library, with the knitting needles

Although for fun, I couldn’t resist giving her her come-uppance.

A Trip to Tiny Baker Street

While nearly all of my miniature detectives and crime scenes are 1:12 scale, I have one in the tiny (and space saving) scale of 1:48.

221 B Baker Street

My friend Gayle Baillargeon is the queen of quarter inch scale miniatures projects, including a collection of excellent tiny book kits. That is, bookish rooms containing literary settings.

This was one of my favourites kits to build and embellish

A study in green.

Best Girl Detective Ever

Finally, here’s a tribute to the bookish bedroom of my childhood.  Yup, full of Trixie Belden.

Trixie Belden, best girl detective ever.

 

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I have been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil.

I’ve been making minatures for about as long as I could hold a bottle of glue.

Why yes, they do cross over each other.  So I can’t help letting loose sometimes and create miniatures scenes and figures representing Detectives and The Scene of the Crime.

First up, The Detectives.

We begin with the Divine Miss M.  Miss Jane Marple, of St. Mary Mead.

Miss Marple, in the Garden with the Binoculars

Miss Marple, in the Garden with the Binoculars (yes, they’re in her trug basket)

I bought the bisque doll, based on the Joan Hickson incarnation (of course), from a miniature dolls creator, and dressed her in her everyday clothes. The ensemble she would wear for puttering around her garden, visiting the neighbours, marketing in The High, or sitting by her window keeping an eye on where the vicar is headed at this time of day.

Miss Marple

You can’t go wrong with a silk blouse, a lacy knitted cardigan with pearl buttons, Mother’s brooch, and a good hat for keeping the sun off.

I made up Jane and her garden for a raffle prize at an Ontario Miniatures Gathering, an annual minis get-together involving friends, minis, food, workshops, displays, food, sales, drinks and food.

 

Brother Cadfael was fun to create.

Brother Cadfael in his library

This is the only time I’ve ever made the doll myself, entirely from scratch, using Fimo. I couldn’t find a suitable doll to fill the bill.

Again, he was a raffle prize at the Minis Gathering. Gosh, that was 1997.

The herbarium was a ton of fun too.

Brother C in his element

Yes…. just a touch of monkshood.

 

Next, Jessica Fletcher, of Cabot Cover, Maine and other international locales….

Jessica Fletcher

Jessica Fletcher, the prototype created by Linda for our class.

I took a workshop to dress a Jessica Fletcher doll, given by miniature dollmaker Linda Beaupré at another Minis Gathering, when the theme was A Little Mystery.

I’m quite happy with my own Jessica, in her writing element.

Other mystery-related items I picked up that weekend: the extremely deadly Gloriosa Lily (created by Carolyn Roach), a silver Borgia casket (by Don Spratling) and a Sherlock Holmes teapot (by Janice Crawley).  Also on the wicker desk (by Debi Kolenchuk) are a Clarice Cliff tea set (no, the tea isn’t poisoned) by Janice Crawley, my dear cat Lucky, by Karl Blindheim, and Eileen Charenduk’s Lily of the Valley (also severely poisonous). Handwoven rug by Rita Valois and painting by Caroline Grimes.

 

Finally, my all-time favourite fictional detective and mystery writer, Harriet D. Vane.

Harriet D Vane

Another fabulous workshop from Linda Beaupré, when the Minis Gathering theme was Murder on the Orient Express. We made a 1930s Orient Express traveller, and I immediately recognized her has Harriet.

Harriet on the way

Once Harriet escaped the noose, she became a huge bestseller, and could afford to Go in Style.

There are probably more I’d like to tackle. Trixie Belden, maybe? We’ll see….

 

Next time: The Scene of the Crime.

Meanwhile, find out about the Miniature Enthusiasts of Toronto and their annual Minis Show and Sale

Check out another MinLit adventure

link to Pandora

Pandora in Blue Jeans

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Recently I waxed excited about my story’s inclusion in Judy Penz Sheluk’s anthology from Superior Shores Press, The Best Laid Plans.

It’s here. It’s now. You can order it from a variety of online sources in paperback or e-copy.

Spirit River Dam” is a tale of potential art fraud with very high stakes.

The Drive, Tom Thomson 1916-17

Tom Thomson’s The Drive, Winter 1916-1917

Imogen runs a trendy art gallery in Toronto in the Sixties. She is surprised and delighted and wary in equal parts when her ex walks in with Spirit River Dam, a painting that could very well be a long lost work by Canadian artist, Tom Thomson.

The painting looks right; it feels right. It ticks all the right boxes. Except for one little detail.

Now, if they could just make that one little detail disappear…. And to what lengths will they go?

* * *

Does the mysterious painting, Spirit River Dam, look a little like The Drive, above?

Or maybe like this one?

Tea Lake Dam, Tom Thomson, 1915

Tom Thomson remains one of Canada’s best-loved and admired artists. His ground-breaking paintings of the early twentieth century, including depictions of Algonquin Park, became the the basis for a whole new school of Canadian art.

Tom, Fishing in Algonquin Park

You can explore Tom Thomson’s entire catalogue here, including all his painting of dams.

And you can order your copy of The Best Laid Plans here.

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My latest story “My Night with the Duke of Edinburgh” is now available in the anthology Fishy Business.

Along with 21 other stories this is a caper tale, where just about any scheme might be put to the test, and pulled off. Or go horribly awry.

The Princess & the Duke visit Toronto, 1951

October 1951. The lovely and popular Princess Elizabeth is making a cross-Canada tour, standing in for her father, the ailing King George VI.  Escorting her is her glowing sun god of a husband, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Four university students decide the Royal visit to Toronto will provide an excellent opportunity to make a stand against the oppression of The Monarchy. What better plan than to kidnap the Duke of Edinburgh? Or at least, his waxwork effigy. All they have to do is break into the Royal Ontario Museum at night, and spirit him away.

The Duke

What could possibly go wrong?

I took the inspiration for the story from a real-life 1960 adventure when a group of entitled young men decided to steal Antony Armstrong-Jones (remember him?) from Madame Tussaud’s. Since few people remember Princess Margaret’s ex-husband, and even fewer care, I hit upon more memorable royals for my story.

You can listen to that intriguing tale here, at BBC’s Short Cuts. Start at 2:59.

You can enjoy the actual tour (sans kidnapping) at the National Film Board of Canada’s website. Click on the picture.

The Royal Journey

The latest Sisters in Crime Guppies anthology is now available–in Paperback and e-Book– from Wildside Press and other popular purveyors of the printed word.

Fishy Business

fishy tales

22 Delicious Caper Tales

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I just got the good news.

My latest story, “Spirit River Dam”, has been selected for Judy Penz Sheluk’s upcoming anthology, The Best Laid Plans, coming in June from her imprint, Superior Shores Press.

I first met Judy, fellow Sister in Crime, when we were billed together in The Whole She-Bang 2, my first outing as a published crime writer. Judy’s the author of several crime novels and story collections, which you can read all about here.

Me and Judy at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto.

I tend to need a theme and a deadline before I can jump into a short crime story. So I was immediately taken by the reminder of Burns’s poem, “To a Mouse“, with its warning,

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley….”

(I don’t have to explain “agley” do I? Or Burns?) It goes on,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Yeah…. All that promis’d joy, all that grief an’ pain. Theme. Big time.

So let’s see….someone has an old painting in their house, going back generations. A painting of a dam on a river in what could be Algonquin Park. Kind of in the style of Tom Thomson. Kind of like this one.

Tea Lake Dam, Tom Thomson, 1915

Is it a Thomson? Isn’t it? Might it be? And if it isn’t, then what if….?

Yes, you’re right. It was inspired by a story in the news last year. With a joyful ($480,000) ending. My story, being fiction, might not go so well. Might go agley, in fact.

Or not.

I’ll keep you all posted, closer to launch day.

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Here we are…. my latest short story involving secrets, lies, betrayals and train travel.

Murder on the Northern Lights Express

Northern Lights Express arrives at Cumberland Bridge, Ontario

In 1961, Alice Berlin boards the Northern Lights Express in Toronto, heading north on a reunion trip with her old friends from university. The only member of the group missing is Walter, who died in an accident two years ago.

As the train speeds northwards through the autumn countryside, Alice begins to work on her hidden agenda, finding out who knows the truth behind Flames Along the St. Lawrence, the brilliant historical work that’s taking the academic world by storm.

Murder on the Northern Lights Express” is featured in Mystery Most Geographical, the latest anthology from the wonderful people at Malice Domestic, the annual traditional mystery conference held each April in Maryland.

Mystery Most Geographical is available at the Malice Domestic Conference (April 27-29, 2018) or all your favourite online bookstores.

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There’s a new man in my life: Arthur Ellis.  He’s moved into my house and lives on my desk.

Last night, I received the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for my short story, “A Death at the Parsonage“, from the Crime Writers of Canada.

I was in good company when I was shortlisted last month, along with fellow writers in The Whole She-Bang 3 anthology, Cathy Ace and Elizabeth Hosang.

And I’m in good company again with the other winners (below).  All the details about their winning books can be found at the CWC website.

It was an exciting night, meeting with other crime writers, and having Norman and my tablemates send good vibes my way.

Many, many thanks to the Crime Writers of Canada and their endless work in making the awards happen, and to their hard-reading judges.

I have to share here some of the commentary from the judges:

…Susan Daly combines all the familiar elements of Pride and Prejudice in a murder… following the conclusion of Jane Austen’s literary Classic.  Daly’s witty dialogue and sensitive attention to detail pull the reader back in the world of Elizabeth Darcy (née Bennet) and her hapless friend Charlotte, who now finds herself under suspcion after the violent and mysterious death of her husband. Daly’s characters all seem to have stepped gracefully out of the original novel as she seamlessly weaves old with new. …Most compelling is the author’s ability to make us believe in the world she has created.  Here is a well crafted story and a thoroughly entertaining reminder of what darkness human beings are capable of when they [dare to] read novels.

The winners: Donna Morrissey (not present), S.J. Jennings, Marie-Ève Bourassa, Elle Wild, Christina Jennings, Gordon Korman (not present), Jeremy Grimaldi, Rick Blechta and me.

And many more thanks to Toronto Sisters in Crime for pulling together the three Whole She-Bang anthologies.

Sisters in Crime: Janet Costello, me, Helen Nelson. With Arthur

Thanks also to Jane Austen for creating my characters.

Where to buy The Whole She-Bang 3

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A Death at the Parsonage – exciting news.

I’m having a great time with my short stories this year. And now, can you believe it, “A Death at the Parsonage“, has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best short story.

The story, included in The Whole She-Bang 3 Anthology, is based on characters from Pride and Prejudice characters (as if no one has done that before) because I feel that Charlotte deserves better in life than to be stuck with Mr. Collins forever, though she explains her low expectations to Elizabeth:

I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state. (P&P, Chapter 22)

The Collinses in Happier Times

It was inevitable, perhaps, that someday someone would get fed up with the “conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man” (as Elizabeth so roundly describes him) and take a swing at him.

When the finger of guilt points to Mrs. Collins, it’s fortunate that her dearest friend is on hand to set matters straight.

 

The Whole She-Bang 3 is the collaborative work of members of Toronto Sisters in Crime, co-ordinated by Helen Nelson, edited by Janet Costello and brought to life by a tireless team of volunteers. The anthology features works by 20 Canadian crime writers, and is (can you tell by the title?) the third in the Whole She-Bang Series. All are available from your favourite on-line booktores.

The Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Crime Writing are held every year by the Crime Writers of Canada. The shortlists were announced April 20, and include, as always, a glorious array of talented Canadian crime writers in a variety of categories.

The award gets its name from the Nom de Noose of Canada’s Official Hangmen, who were never known by their real names. The charming wooden statuette (to quote the CWC website) represents a “condemned man on a gibbet whose arms and legs flail when you pull a string – considered by some to be in execrable taste.”

Capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976; the last official hanging took place in 1962.

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I’ve spent a lot of time reading other people’s wonderful book blogs  and commenting copiously, all the while adding to my teetering TBR pile.

But really, I have to start doing a little reviewing myself.  And so I’ve been sparked by the 1951  Club, introduced by Simon Stuck in a Book, Karen at Kaggsy’s Booking Ramblings.

It’s simple, I think. Read and review books published in 1951. And share the lovely logo.

The 1951 Club

So, I went through my Books Catalogue and my Books Read (since 2010) and found a clutch of 1951 Books asking to be reviewed. Which I will get to.

In the meantime, I’ll link to a few existing mystery reviews I’ve come across in my blog wanderings.

Stranglehold, by Mary McMullen, at Clothes in Books. A delicious step back in time to the world of 1950s Madison Avenue. As soon as I read this review, I knew I had to buy it. Here’s my comment at Moira’s blog:

I just loved it. All those cigarettes and cocktails and fashion plates and office politics and product pushing. I liked the bit where the client is all about making America fall in love with cold breakfast cereal again, and weaning them away from bacon and eggs.

Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery, by Julie Campbell. Reviewed by Bev at My Reader’s Block.  I did comment, but I think it’s worth a review of my own. Coming soon.

 

Duplicate Death, a Georgette Heyer mystery, also reviewed by Bev. Again set in the big city post-war world. London this time. And one of my all-time favourite books.  Another one that’s begging for me to review it.

It’s worth noting that while these were all written contemporary to their time, they are now windows into the past. Authentic period pieces. Perhaps even historical mysteries.

But stay tuned, because first I will be featuring a non-mystery 1951 novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, best known for Stella Dallas (1923) and Now, Voyager (1941). Get your hankies ready.

 

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