"Mirror Image" (Poisoned Pen Press) now at your bookseller's.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


In case anyone's interested, I'm teaching a mystery-writing workshop at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California.
It takes place on two consecutive Monday evenings, from 6:30-8:00 PM, on Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.  Whether you're writing a cozy whodunnit or an edgy crime thriller, I think you'll find this hands-on, experiential workshop informative and inspiring.
For more info, here's the link to the Vroman's Writing Classes web page:

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Farewell, Inspector John Rebus?

Prolific mystery author Ian Rankin has just published a new novel in his hugely popular series about the Edinburgh police inspector John Rebus. The book is called, appropriately enough, Exit Music. But is this really the end of the line for the acerbic, unconventional hero?
That depends. The authors of iconic detective characters have tried almost since the inception of the mystery genre to rid themselves of their most noted heroes, but with mixed results. Remember what happened when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sent his beloved Sherlock Holmes over the falls, locked in a death-grip with Moriarty? First,
Holmes showed up eight years later in The Hound of the Baskervilles, a tale supposedly released "posthumously" by the faithful Watson. Then, Conan Doyle just bit the bullet and brought his detective back from the dead with "The Adventure of the Empty House," and many more stories in the series followed.
On the other hand, Agatha Christie took no chances with Hercule Poirot. He dies at the end of the final novel. Curtain. As does Inspector Morse, in Colin Dexter's moving finale to his detective series, The Remorseful Day. Had Ian Fleming taken the same care with James Bond, we wouldn't have had to endure the pseudo-Bond thrillers written by others after the British author's death.
But what about Exit Music? Is this really the end for John Rebus? According to early reviews of the novel, things are left a bit up in the air...which is fine by me.
As Mark Twain famously said, "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Thankfully, this is true for many of crime fiction's most beloved characters.
By the way, I believe the same might be said about Barack Obama's chances for victory in November. Things aren't always over just because they seem to be. That's what comebacks are all about, in crime fiction, sports, and---hopefully---politics.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NEW DIAGNOSIS! Irrational Fear of Palin Disorder

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As a veteran therapist, I'm using this forum to announce the establishment of a new clinical diagnosis: IFP Disorder (Irrational Fear of Palin Disorder).
Since the McCain campaign picked Sarah Palin as their V-P candidate, poll numbers have swung ominously in their favor. The gun-totin', Bible-thumping, anti-choice, book-burning "hockey mom" is America's newest sweetheart.
But that's not the point: what really has amazed me in the past week is the change that has come over my therapy patients. Without fail, they seem oddly uninterested in dealing with their usual issues---relationship conflicts, family concerns, career crises, substance abuse, etc. All they want to talk about is their Fear of Sarah Palin.
Since my practice specializes in creative issues, I have many artistic types as patients---and, true to the cliche, most are liberal Democrats. What I've seen in the last week in my therapy office can only be described as a clinical phenomenon:
hour after hour, patient after patient comes trudging in with shoulders bent, face a sickly pallor, and eyes buzzing with anxiety. Some personal tragedy? Some terrifying dream? Some horrible revelation from a spouse or significant other?
No...it's Sarah Palin's rise to prominence. It's the turn in the polls. It's the bracing fear that the McCain/Palin ticket may actually triumph in November.
Old issues of paranoia, depression, and inadequacy are re-emerging. Beliefs are being challenged. Old phobias reawakened.  
And with good reason. Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura governor. Californians put Arnold in the state capital. Why not a vice-president (and potential commander-in-chief) who seems more like a runner-up in American Idol than a sober-minded policy maker?
The symptoms of IFP Disorder are depression, loss of faith in the political system,
obsessive viewing of cable news shows and Internet sites, and compulsive sending and forwarding on of alarmed (and alarming) emails to like-minded people.
The treatment options for IFP Disorder? Phone banks, donations, organizing, and getting out the vote. Will that work? Will it be enough?
Only time will tell. Because if IFP Disorder sprouts into a full-scale epidemic, we may indeed soon be seeing Vice President Palin field-dressing moose in the Rose Garden.   

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But...

The focus of the GOP Convention this week? Flag-waving and racism. I wonder if it'll work. (It always has in the past.)

Sarah Palin as V-P candidate: the premise? Good ol' girl trumps policy experience. Also might work, even with pregnant teen daughter. And it will be hard for Joe Biden to debate her on issues and policy without seeming condescending or ungallant. Trust me, Palin could be a stealth weapon in the GOP campaign.

To Democrats: Underestimate her at your peril.

The surrealism factor: McCain is running as anti-establishment candidate, when his own party was the establishment for the past eight years. Only in America.

It seems as if, in all the sturm und drang in the aftermath of the Democratic primary fight, the die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters have lost sight of a significant fact: a McCain-Palin victory in November means essentially the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I hope the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) folks are ready for that.

And, lastly, and God knows I'm not the first one to ask the question: Is this any way to elect the leader of the most powerful nation on earth?

I suspect that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, rivals that they were, would be joined in rolling over in their respective graves.