Archive for the ‘A Life of Crime’ Category

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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