AT THE SCENE - October 2014

Dear Friend,
Louise Penny's thoughtful, deeply humane brand of crime fiction has won her a large and devoted following. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is, as his creator describes him, "a serene, content man who, at his core, is happy." Gamache is also a bit of a philosopher, as can be seen in this excerpt from Penny's latest novel, The Long Way Home.

Armand Gamache considered himself more an explorer than a hunter. The goal was to discover. And what he discovered could still surprise him.

How often had he questioned a murderer expecting to find curdled emotions, a soul gone sour? And instead found goodness that had gone astray.

He still arrested them, of course. But he'd come to agree with Sister Prejean that no one was as bad as the worst thing they'd done.

Armand Gamache had seen the worst But he'd also seen the best. Often in the same person.

Penny's novels have increased tourism in Quebec's beautiful Eastern Townships, the locale of Gamache's beloved village of Three Pines. You'll want to get on the road to Three Pines yourself after reading Oline Cogdill's chat with the author in this issue.

The lives of mystery writers are as varied as their books. In this issue, Jon L. Breen has put together a wide-ranging survey of memoirs and autobiographies by crime fiction authors as disparate as Agatha Christie, Chester Himes, and Sara Paretsky. Ed Gorman's Sam McCain, featured in a series that ranges from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, has been described as a "small town hero." He's more than that, though. Sam is living through-and bearing perceptive witness to-the social upheavals that will transform the United States. Change has its price, though, and as Tom Nolan notes in "Riders of the Storm," Sam is paying it more and more as the years go by.

The irresistibly corrupt Frank Underwood, played to oily perfection by Kevin Spacey, is the moral vacuum at the center of the political drama House of Cards. Frank and his equally formidable wife Claire (Robin Wright, in an astonishing performance), are the Washington power couple from hell. As Jake Hinkson notes in "High Crimes & Misdemeanors," it's not democracy-but it sure is entertaining. Also in this issue, Joe Goodrich looks at the life of David Goodis, who has belatedly come to be appreciated as a master of noir, and Michael Mallory considers Phoebe Atwood Taylor's Yankee sleuth, Asey Mayo, also known as the "Codfish Sherlock." Enjoy!

Kate Stine

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article1Laura Childs on the Bookmobile Road to Reading

Laura Childs 
Laura Childs

"Up until I was 12 years old, we didn't have a library in the small Minnesota town where I grew up. You found your books where you could, rifled off your parents' nightstand, your grandmother's attic, or packed away in a neighbor's garage. Then, one day, the Scott County Bookmobile rumbled into town! What a treasure trove it turned out to be, filled with Black Stallion books, Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, Tarzan novels, and Nancy Drew mysteries. After I finally blew through the young adult section, I decided to set my sights on adult novels. Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago had just been published, as had Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy, and I had a hankering to find out what they were all about."

Laura Child's latest novel is Gossamer Ghost. (Berkley Hardcover, October 2014)

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


The Night Visitor Ad
article2Crime Time TV: New Shows of Fall
Viola Davis stars as cutthroat lawyer and law professor Annalise Keating in ABC's How to Get Away With Murder, the new show from producer Shonda Rhimes (Scandal ).
The fall TV season is underway and the shows are out of the gate, but which of the new network offerings are worth your crime time viewing? Mystery Scene picks four promising new shows.

How to Get Away With Murder

ABC, Thursdays 10/9c

Viola Davis stars as the morally ambiguous, whip-smart lawyer who ushers four legal students into the cutthroat world of high-profile private law in How to Get Away With Murder. Professor Annalise Keating's ambitious protégés quickly find themselves grave-deep the ultimate teachable moment when they become involved in a murder and must be quick studies on, well... the title of the show says it all. While the legal action is clearly pure TV fiction, the drama is high and well-paced, and Davis gives a wickedly good and magnetic performance as the Machiavellian heart of the show. From ABC's hit producer Shonda Rhimes (Scandal), and written by Peter Norwalk (Scandal, Grey's Anatomy).

Madam Secretary
CBS, Sundays 8/7c

Tèa Leoni stars as a Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst and college professor turned US Secretary of State. McCord steps into a Washington arena where she's circled by fraught international issues, domestic intelligence leaks, an office nemesis in Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek), and a larger conspiracy responsible for the "accidental" death of her predecessor. McCord is cool under pressure, well-schooled in the issues and several languages, willing to take risks, and guided by a steady moral compass - a refreshing political protagonist in contrast to the Frank Underwoods of the world. Madam Secretary's character is rounded out by McCord's well-drawn domestic life as a mother of three and wife to Georgetown religion professor Henry (Tim Daly).

Fox, Mondays 8/7c

The latest comic-book inspired drama details the rise of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) of Batman from his early days as a police detective on the dangerous, atmospheric streets of Gotham where his passion and ideals are tested at each turn by corrupt politicians, mad villains, and dirty cops - including his own partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Gordon's ongoing case is the murder of young Bruce Wayne's parents, but other of the city's crimes and plots give audiences an early look at Batman characters, including Catwoman played as a street-smart runaway by Camren Bicondova, and the unbalanced young man who becomes the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Written by Bruno Heller (The Mentalist), and directed by Danny Cannon (CSI, Nikita).

ABC, Mondays 10/9c

A forensics crime drama based on a supernatural premise of its hero's immortality, Forever, recounts the remarkable skills of deduction displayed be New York City medical examiner Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffold) - who just happens to have 200 years of experience under his scalpel. Together with his partner Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza), the examiner solves mysteries past and present while dying and being resurrected again a few times along the way. Also stars Judd Hirsch as Abe, Morgan's closest friend. Directed by Brad Anderson and produced by Matt Miller (Las Vegas), Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes), and Jennifer Gwartz (Veronica Mars).

Please write "TOTE" in the comments field of your order.

articlecAce Atkins, Reed Coleman & Robert B. Parker
Two authors bring Parker's heroes back to the page
L-R: Ace Atkins and Reed Farrel Coleman

Robert B. Parker died in 2010, but Spenser, his iconic Boston private eye, and Jesse Stone, the police chief in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts, continue.

Ace Atkins's third novel about Spenser, Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot came out in May and Reed Farrel Coleman's first Jesse Stone novel Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot was published in September. Both novels landed on bestsellers list and each author is signed to produce more novels about Parker's characters.

(Read the full article at

article4Overheard: Author Fuminori Nakamura
Fuminori Nakamura's latest novel translated into English is Last Winter, 
We Parted (Soho, October 2014). 
"Don't you think people make their own choices in life?"

"They do, but in many cases their choices are limited - unless they break the rules."  
- Fuminori Nakamura, Evil and the Mask

The Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura is the recipient of 2014 NoirCon David Goodis Award for Literature. It will be presented November 1, in Philadelphia.

(Read more about NoirCon at 
by Oline H. Cogdill
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel has acquired the works of Deborah Donnelly, Joanne Fluke, and Charlaine Harris, whose novels will be made into original TV movies.

by Oline Cogdill
Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star as the dysfunctional spouses at the center of the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's 2012 bestseller Gone Girl.

ArticleBook 'Em, Danno! 
by Jerome Coopersmith

A scriptwriter reflects on his years writing for the original Hawaii Five-O.

by H.R.F. Keating
Anthony Price said once that he hoped in his writing to catch something of Faulkner's "truths of the heart." He did.

Reviews: More Reviews
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Established in 1985, Mystery Scene Magazine is the oldest, largest, and most authoritative guide to the crime fiction genre. 

#136, Fall 2014

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