Mystery Scene Magazine

At the Scene, March 2011                      Solving the mystery of what to read next!
In this Issue
Greetings from Kate
Simon Tolkien on Reading
World's Greatest Sleuth review
MC Beaton Giveaway
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Intent to Sell
3rd Edition

by Jeffrey Marks
Jeffrey Marks "Intent to Sell" Ad
$17.95 pb
Hilliard & Harris

ISBN 978-1591331162

2011 Winter Issue #118

Our Robert Crais' profile "The Dudes Abide," plus win MC Beaton's latest Hamish Macbeth mystery, join us at Left Coast Crime, and Simon Tolkien on reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

MS Winter #118, David Crais

Mystery Scene's 2011 Winter Issue, #118

Hi everyone,

We've just finished up Winter Issue #118, which should be hitting newsstands and mailboxes early next week.  

In the new issue, author Robert Crais discusses his latest Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novel, The Sentry, and Jill Paton Walsh talks about the challenges of continuing Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Also, Lawrence Block recalls his friend Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), Kevin Burton Smith nominates Kalinda Sharma from The Good Wife as the "Best 'Tec on TV," and you won't want to miss the latest and final installment of our Book Collecting series.

We also sit down for a chat with Steve Hockensmith, author of the Holmes on the Range adventures about two cowpoke brothers turned detectives. A special online exclusive review of The World's Greatest Sleuth, which we're sharing with you first, appears in this newsletter (below).

And for your first look exclusive on March's Writers on Reading essay author Simon Tolkien weighs in on John le Carré's classic, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Last but not least, Publisher Brian Skupin and I will both be attending Left Coast Crime March 24-27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico later this month. If you're also in town, please stop and say hello!

Kate Stine

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M.C. Beaton, "Death of a Chimney Sweep"

Simon Tolkien on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
And the case why George Smiley outclasses James Bond

John le Carre, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is my favourite espionage novel. Its clever, elegant plot flashes between past and present, showing events from multiple points of view without ever creating confusion. The reader is carried forward on a tide of mounting suspense, uncertain of the identity of the traitor until the final pages.

The book's hero, George Smiley, is a great creation. He is almost old and has seen it all before; he is tired but indefatigable; he has no illusions but retains an unbroken sense of honour. As the book opens, a new regime is in control of the British Secret Service and one of its leaders is working for the Soviets. Smiley is brought out of retirement to identify the traitor but he is not the first to attempt the task. The last Secret Service chief, Control, was also convinced there was a traitor inside the Service and sent an agent, Jim Prideaux, into Czechoslovakia to spirit out a communist general who supposedly knew the identity of the mole. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy were the names that Control gave to his four deputies and he instructed Prideaux to radio him one of these words, just 'one little word', to reveal who the traitor was. But no word ever came. Control had been set up by the mole. The operation was blown, Prideaux was shot in the back, and Control was disgraced. Smiley was the only mourner at his funeral. Now Smiley must follow in the dead man's footsteps and try to succeed where his mentor failed. And on the other side of the espionage chessboard is the Russian spymaster, Karla, whom Smiley met once years before in a hot interrogation cell in Delhi and failed to break.
This is a down-at-heel world of gas fires and lukewarm tea far removed from the glamour of James Bond. But Tinker, Tailor has an infinitely greater depth than Ian Fleming's novels. No one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems. The characters wrestle with conflicted loyalties and speak a euphemistic language that does more than anything else to give the book its unique atmosphere. MI6 is the Circus; surveillance men are lamplighters; bodyguards are babysitters, and the Americans are the cousins. In 1979, five years after its publication, Tinker, Tailor was adapted for television by the BBC with Alec Guiness providing a memorable portrait of George Smiley, and now there are advanced plans for a feature film with Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. This continuing interest is a tribute to the enduring appeal of this wonderful novel.

Simon Tolkien, King of DiamondsSimon Tolkien's latest book is The King of Diamonds (Minotaur Books, March 2011)

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



"Books...are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em
and leave 'em behind, as evidence of
our earlier stages of development."

Lord Peter Wimsey in The Unpleasantness at 
the Bellona Club, 1928, by Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 - 1957)   
Saddle up with the Amlingmeyer Boys
World's Greatest Sleuth 
by Steve Hockensmith
Steven Hockensmith, World's Greatest Sleuth Minotaur Books, January 2011, $24.99

The appeal of Sherlock Holmes is eternal and writers never cease to cash in on his popularity by updating his stories or by including him as a character in their own books. None are more original in concept than the Holmes on the Range series featuring two young cowpokes, Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer. The brothers' relationship and personalities are similar to Holmes and Dr. Watson is some respects, but where their role models roam the streets of London, the Amlingmeyers roam the American West; where Sherlock is educated, articulate, and uppercrust, Old Red is illiterate, tongue-tied, and dirt poor.

It's the happy-go-lucky Big Red who first introduces his older brother to Sherlock Holmes, reading the stories out loud around the campfire. Old Red immediately decides to model himself on the great detective with surprisingly effective results. Taking his cue from Dr. Watson, Big Red chronicles the adventures and sells them to a publisher of popular 'dime novels.' When the publisher invites them to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair to participate in a "World's Greatest Sleuth" contest, they accept. The contest, organized by a man out to prove that most of the 'real' detectives are only fictional, pits our heroes against other American and European investigators. Initially the brothers are the joke of the competition, but when the organizer is found dead in a vat of cheese (you have to read the book to see how that came about), it is only Old Red who suspects murder and sets out to catch the killer. The World's Greatest Detective, the fifth in this fun-packed series, offers the reader not only a great mystery, but also a tour of the "White City" that was the Chicago's World Fair. Rootin', tootin' fun from start to finish! - Bob Smith

Cheryl Solimini's interview with author Steven Hockensmith appears in Winter Issue #118, out now.

For more on this series, please also visit the MS reviews of On the Wrong Track (2007), and The Black Dove (2008).


Win a copy of Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton
Mystery Scene and Grand Central Publishing are pleased to give away this new mystery to 10 lucky readers.


Scottish Police Constable Hamish Macbeth investigates a dead body found stuffed inside a chimney in New York Times bestselling M.C. Beaton's latest novel.

*Please note this contest is only open to U.S. residents 18 and older. 

contest winners: "A Bouquet of Books" puzzle winner Gordon M. from Virginia Beach, Virg. and "Readers Recommend" winner Sharon L. from Keystone Heights, Flor.    
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