Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Off to Thrillerfest

Leaving tomorrow at Oh-dark-thirty for the flight to Phoenix and Thrillerfest. I'm moderating a panel on Sunday at 9:00, which will mark the earliest I've been up on Sunday in years. The panel topic is "Walking on the Dark Side: Violence in Thrillers". and it features my homeboy David Terrenoire, Nawth Carolinan emeritus Blake Crouch, fellow Shamus Nominee Louise Ure, and the team of J.J. and Bette Golden Lamb. It being Sunday morning and all, I think w'ere going to have a good old time revival service. Can I get a A-men?

And, thanks to here's what we have to look forward to, weather-wise:

Thursday 106
Friday 107
Saturday 110
Sunday 110

Dear God.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Shamus Award Nominees


The Private Eye Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2006 Shamus Awards (for works published in 2005).

They are:

Best Hardcover

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams (Wm. Morrow), featuring Nick Petrov.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown), featuring Mickey Haller.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Doubleday), featuring Elvis Cole.

In A Teapot by Terence Faherty (Crum Creek Press), featuring Scott Elliot.

The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg (Five Star), featuring Harvey Mapes.

Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown), featuring Easy Rawlins.

Best Paperback Original

Falling Down by David Cole (Avon), featuring Laura Winslow.

The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Plume), featuring Moe Prager.

Deadlocked by Joel Goldman (Pinnacle), featuring Lou Mason.

Cordite Wine by Richard Helms (Back Alley Books), featuring Eamon Gold.

A Killing Rain by PJ Parrish (Pinnacle), featuring Louis Kincaid.

Best First Novel

Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Medallion), featuring Julie Collins.

Still River by Harry Hunsicker (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur), featuring Lee Henry Oswald.>

The Devil’s Right Hand by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin Minotaur), featuring Jack Keller.

Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press – Warner), featuring Calla Gentry.

Best Short Story

“Oh, What a Tangled Lanyard We Weave” by Parnell Hall. Murder Most Crafty (Berkley), featuring Stanley Hastings.

“Two Birds with One Stone” by Jeremiah Healy. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2005, featuring John Francis Cuddy.

“The Big Road” by Steve Hockensmith. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2005, featuring Larry Erie.

“A Death in Ueno” by Michael Wiecek. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2005 featuring Masakazu Sakonju.

“The Breaks” by Timothy Williams. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2005 featuring Charlie Raines.

Now I just have to keep repeating: It's an honor just to be nominated, it's an honor just to be nominated, it's an honor....

No True Bill

Wow, I leave town for a week and all hell breaks loose.

Over at The Lipstick Chronicles, Elaine Viets blisters the newly formed International Thriller Writers because none of the nominees for the first annual Thriller Awards to be given next week at Thrillerfest are written by women. (I'd point out that none of them were written by native Southerners, either, but that, so I've read, would "diminish the argument", which is apparently a bad thing.)

ITW co-founder and co-president Gayle Lynds, who to my untrained eye appears to be a woman her ownself) has issued a statement defending the nominating process. Needless to say, a lot of blogging and commentary has followed this issue, including a predictable amount of straw men, accusations of insensitivity, insults, and handwaving.

It seems to me that the accusation of bias on the part of ITW is founded on one point: no women were nominated this year. It also seems to me that all evidence contrary to the accusation is being unfairly dismissed out of hand. There were women on the nominating committee? They must have subconscious bias. This is too small a sample to indicate a pattern of bias? Doesn't matter, this is the first year, the "year people will be forming impressions."

Maybe it's my lawyer's mind working, but when you just blithely dismiss counter-evidence like this and construct your theory to fit the accusation rather than one to fit the evidence, you're on thin ice.

ITW's nominating process may be biased and it may not, but I'm not voting to indict on this evidence.

Assuming, however, that the lack of female nominees does indicate bias, what is the proposed remedy? Put more women on the nominating committee? The accusers have already dismissed the objectivity of the ones already on there. Mandate a quota of female authors? No one wants that. Sensitivity training for the nominating committee, maybe? Or is the whole point just to "raise awareness" of the issue while leaving the hard work of figuring what to do about the assumed problem to others?

I Return, Bringing Glad Tidings

Latest Newspaper Column:

Newspapers are often criticized for not reporting enough "good news."

Why all this attention, the complaint goes, to wars and corruption and global warming and natural disasters? That stuff's s-o-o-o-o-o depressing. Why not talk about the good things that are happening in the world?

Well, for all you folks yearning for some good news, here's my gift to you, because I've just spent the last week on vacation and I'm in a good mood.

Our first piece of good news comes from the world of science.

It turns out, according to researches at Oregon State University, that beer may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

No, I'm not joking. It's actual science with guys in white lab coats and everything.

It seems that a chemical called xanthohumol "inhibits a protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland," according to the Associated Press. "The protein acts like a switch that turns on a variety of cancers, including prostate cancer." And, as it happens, xanthohumol is found naturally in the hops used to make beer.

It gets better. Researchers have previously discovered that lycopene, a chemical found in tomatoes (and preserved in tomato sauces) can also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

So, beer all around! Someone call Domino's and tell them to get some pizza over here, stat!

Of course, there's one catch. In order to get enough xanthohumol into your system to make a difference, you'd have to drink an estimated 17 beers a day. And to get a useful level of lycopene, you'd have to eat four large pizzas. A day. So we'd better get busy. Prostate cancer is lurking and could strike at any moment.

If you're worried about possible liver damage from drinking enough beer daily to stun a Viking, science has more good news for you, at least if you love coffee like I do.

According to another AP story, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., recently discovered that "one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by a whopping 80 percent.

"The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds."

And as it turns out, you don't even need to be a drunk to experience coffee's salubrious effects on the liver -- but it helps!

"The same study," according to the AP story, "found coffee drinkers had healthier results on blood tests used to measure liver function, whether or not they were heavy alcohol users," but that "coffee's effect on reducing liver enzymes in the blood was more apparent among the heavy drinkers in the study." Unfortunately for you tea drinkers, your little girly beverage does not have this effect.

So for that morning after those 17 beers, when caffeine is as necessary as oxygen, brew yourself up a big pot o' java, drink up, and have no fear.

But, you may fret, if I consume all that beer and pizza, I'll get fat. Well, that's true. But life is full of little trade-off's isn't it? And, as the experience of a man in Germany shows us, being fat may actually work to your advantage in certain situations, such as getting run over by a car.

When a 30-year-old man in Gifhorn, Germany, fell from his bicycle in front of a Volkswagen, both he and his doctors were amazed that he suffered nothing worse than a dislocated hip, a bloody nose and some scratches, despite the fact that the car ran straight over him.

Gifhorn police, according to the Reuters news agency, credit the man's amazing survival to his bulk: approximately 440 pounds.

"Someone smaller would probably not have been so lucky," commented police spokesman Sven-Marco Claus. Or looked as amusing falling off of his bicycle, I'll wager.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once observed that "beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." And now, it seems, science has caught up with old Ben, proving once again that religion and science are not incompatible. Beer, combined with pizza in massive quantities, can not only make you happy, not only healthy, but, it would seem, darn near invincible. And isn't that good news?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take my medicine.