Mystery Scene Magazine

At the Scene, February 2011               Solving the mystery of what to give next!
In this Issue
Greetings from MS
Barbara D'Amato on The Choirboys
2011 Edgar Nominees
Romancing the Con
Murder Gras Reads
Win a Year of Mystery Scene
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Intent to Sell
3rd Edition

by Jeffrey Marks
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$17.95 pb
Hilliard & Harris

ISBN 978-1591331162


Barbara D'Amato on The Choirboys, 2011 Edgar Award Nominations, Mardi Gras Reads, and Finding True Love at Mystery Conventions

Hi everyone,

If the winter weather has gotten you down, our guest for "Writers on Reading" this month, Barbara D'Amato, has a suggestion: Joseph Wambaugh's The Choirboys.

And if a healthy dose of Joseph Wambaugh's outrageous black comedy doesn't cure the winter doldrums, there's a lot more going on in February: Edgar Awards buzz (read our MS reviews of all Best Novel nominees); tales of true love on the mystery convention circuit in honor of Valentine's Day; and some of our favorite Mardi Gras reads .

Oh, and how could we forget? The #118 Winter Issue of Mystery Scene, featuring Robert Crais, author of the Elvis Cole series, is just on the horizon for late February. The forthcoming issue also includes a chat with Jill Paton Walsh about her latest continuation of Dorothy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, a look at TV's most intriguing PI, Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife (CBS), a selection of crime films featuring journalists, and a look at Steven Hockensmith's Holmes on the Range adventures, and Lawrence Block remembers his friendship with Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain). 

Kate Stine

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Barbara D'Amato on The Choirboys
Cheering up by behaving badly with the LAPD


The Choirboys by Joseph WambaughI'm not given to depression, for which I am grateful. I'm good at worrying,  but I don't do depression. However, several years ago we had moved out of a house where we had lived a  long time and into an apartment. Maybe it was the effort, or the change of surroundings, but I became sad. I felt as if I spent every day living under a big damp dishrag.

Then by sheer accident, I picked up a copy of The Choirboys, a book  I had read before, which had survived the move. By page 40 or so, I felt the depression lift.

The story is loosely hung on a killing in MacArthur Park by one of the officers and the subsequent hearing. Ten officers, stressed out from urban policing, meet in the park for what they call "choir practice" - heavy drinking, occasional group sex with neighborhood barmaids, soothing their feelings of loneliness and disillusionment, and telling war stories - a child slashed into pieces, a dead body covered with rat bites.

The Choirboys raised a storm of outrage when it was first published 1975. Kirkus called it "...a brutal, brutalizing obscenity in a toilet stall..."
I guess they didn't like it.

The Choirboys is politically mega-incorrect, truly poignant, and flat-out hilarious, black comedy at its blackest but funniest. There were whole pages where I could not stop laughing. 

The Choirboys is in-your-face stuff. If you read it, you are going to react to it. It takes you by the hair and says, "Pay attention!" Maybe I just got over feeling drab and gloomy on my own, just coincidence, but I believe The Choirboys blasted me back to life. 


OTHER EYES by Barbara D'Amato  


Barbara D'Amato's latest is Other Eyes (Forge Books, January 2011).

"Writers on Reading" is a special ongoing Mystery Scene series available as a first look exclusive to our newsletter subscribers. 

Mystery Scene Hangman
2011 Edgar Nominees Announced

MWA logo   Mystery Writers of America announced its Nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010. The Edgar Awards will be presented to the winners at our 65th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

  • Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
For a full list of all categories and nominees including BEST FIRST NOVEL, BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL, and BEST SHORT STORY, please click here.
Romancing the Con
Have you found true love on the mystery circuit?

heart book

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Mystery Scene is sharing our very romantic article  "Romancing the Con," from Issue #113, about four couples who found
true love in some unusual places - mystery conventions!

Share your story of love at first write and win!

Have you also found love on the mystery circuit? We want to hear your story. One lucky couple will win a Mystery Scene package of romantic reads. Send your true tale of the heart to us at

Image courtesy of Elana (sourpatch) @ Flickr.

 crocodile on the sandbank

"He was a true Briton, ordering the girl he loved out of danger and remaining loyal to
his billy goat of a brother."
- Amelia Peabody praising her future brother-in-law, Walter Emerson, Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1975, by Elizabeth Peters

Murder Gras
A Carnival Season of Crime with Books Featuring New Orleans' Famous Holiday

SOUL KITCHEN by Poppy Z. Brite    DEATH SWATCH by Laura Childs    MARRIED TO THE MOP by Barbara Colley    PRISONER OF VANDAM STREET by Kinky Friedman

BOURBON STREET by Leonce Gaiter    MARDI GRAS MAMBO by Greg Herron    MARDI GRAS MURDERS by Phillip Scott   THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY by Lynn Sholes


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