CyberGumshoe's Mumblings in November/December 2017

Sue Grafton Dies

Sue Grafton died of appendicular cancer on December 28 at a hospital in Santa Barbara, California. The younger daughter of mystery writer-lawyer C. W. Grafton was miserable with her second husband and wrote novels at night after her day job (at a hospital in LA) and housework (at home in Santa Barbara). Two of her written novels were published (KEZIAH DANE, Macmillan US, 1967; and THE LOLLY-MADONNA WAR, Owen UK, 1969) before A IS FOR ALIBI (Holt, 1982). THE LOLLY-MADONNA WAR was turned into the movie THE LOLLY-MADONNA XXX (1973) with her co-written script, resulting in her working in Hollywood. She co-wrote for TV programs such as "Rhoda" and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and two TV movies based on Agatha Christie's novels (A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY; and SPARKLING CYANIDE, both in 1983). To her, A IS FOR ALIBI, the first in the Kinsey Millhone series, "was a ticket out of Hollywood." She received three Lifetime Achievement Awards: one from the Private Eye Writers of America in 2003 (The Eye); second from the Crime Writers Association of Britain in 2008 (The Diamond Dagger): and third from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009 (The Grand Master). She won three PWA Shamus awards for B IS FOR BUGLAR (1985), G IS FOR GUMSHOE (1990), and K IS FOR KILLER (1994), as well as the 1991 Falcon Award from the Maltese Falcon Society Japan for F IS FOR FUGITIVE. Her last novel was Y IS FOR YESTERDAY (Putnam, 2017), and her alphabet series has ended at Y because she would not allow any movies or TV shows or continuation sequels. She was 77. (December 31, 2017)

Marian Babson Dies

Marian Babson (real name: Ruth Stenstreem) died in mid-December in London, UK after suffering from dementia and weakening health. American-born Babson emigrated to England in the 1960's and wrote over 45 so-called "Murder-Most-British"-style mystery books. Her first novel, COVER-UP STORY (Collins, 1971), introduces Douglas Perkins and Gerry Tate, two public-relations men in London. REEL MURDER (Collins, 1986) is the first in the series featuring Trixie Dolan and Evangeline Sinclair, two aging actresses in London. She served as secretary to the Crime Writers of Britain and won the 1996 CWA Dagger in the Library. Her last novel was NO COOPERATION FROM THE CAT (Windsor, 2012), featuring Dolan and Sinclair. She was 88. (December 23, 2017)

Mary Kelly Dies

Mary Kelly is rumored to have died in mid-December in the United Kingdom. (Sorry I could not get the confirmation or do not know any more details.) The former teacher wrote her first novel, A COLD COMING (Secker & Warburg, 1956), introducing Brett Nightingale, a detective inspector in Edinburgh, Scotland. Nightingale stars in two more novels. Then she authored THE SPOILT KILL (Joseph, 1961), which introduced Hedley Nicholson, a private investigator, and the novel won the 1961 CWA Gold Dagger Award. (Nicholson appeared in one more novel, DUE TO A DEATH, in 1962.) Then again she penned five stand-alone (or one-off) novels. The first three stand-alones (MARCH TO THE GALLOWS; DEAD CORSE; and WRITE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE PAPER published in 1944, 1966, and 1969 respectively) were shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Award. She seemed to stop writing or publishing books after THE GIRL IN THE ALLEY (Macmillan 1974). She was 89. (December 23, 2017)

Clifford Irving Dies

Clifford Irving died on December 19 at a hospice near his home in Sarasota, Florida. He may have been most famous (or infamous) as the author of the bogus autography of Howard Hughes, but he also wrote genuine crime novelssuch as THE LOSERS (Coward, 1957), his second novel; and THE ANGEL OF ZIN (Stein & Day, 1984), a Holocaust mystery. He co-authored THE DEATH FREAK (Summit, 1978) as by John Luckless with Herbert Burkholz, a spy novel featuring Vasily Borgneff & Eddie Mancuso, and its sequel, THE SLEEPING SPY (Atheneum, 1983) as by Irving and Burkholz. He also penned three legal thrillers: TRIAL (Summit, 1990); FINAL ARGUMENT (Simon & Schuster, 1993); and THE SPRING (Simon & Schuster, 1996). He was 87. (December 23, 2017)

Al Lamanda Wins Nero

At the Black Orchid Banquet held in New York City on December 02, The Wolfe Pack, a Nero Wolfian fan club, announced that WITH 6 YOU GET WALLY, by Al Lamanda (Five Star, 2016) won the 2017 Nero Award as the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. (December 07, 2017)

Les Whitten Dies

Les Whitten died on December 02 in Adelphi, Maryland. He was probably best known as a top legman to investigative reporter Jack Anderson, or a staff member of the Washington Merry-Go-Round, a popular news column. However, he was also a poet and translator of Baudelaire, as well as an author of a dozen thriller novels, including PROGENY OF THE ADDER (Doubleday, 1965), featuring a DC cop; MOON OF THE WOLF (Doubleday, 1967), dealing with a werewolf in Mississippi in 1938, and being adapted into a 1972 tv-movie of the same name starring David Janssen; CONFLICT OF INTEREST (Bantam, 1976), featuring a newspaper reporter in Washington DC; and A KILLING PACE (Atheneum, 1983), with a Philadelphia private eye. He was 89. (December 04, 2017)

Joan Hess Dies

Joan Hess died on November 23 at her new home in Austin, Texas. The former art teacher started writing romances to make money, but her nicely-plotted unsold romance novels lacked romance. She switched to mysteries and wrote STRANGLED PROSE (St. Martin's, 1986), the first in the series featuring Claire Malloy, a small-town bookstore owner in Farberville, Arkansas. The Malloy series lasted till PRIDE V. PREJUDICE (Minotaur, 2015). She had another series featuring Arly Hanks, a small-town plice chief in Maggody, Arkansas, starting with MALICE IN MAGGODY (St. Martin's, 1987). She also created the third series under the Joan Hadley pseudonym, featuring Theo Bloomer, a former spy and retired florist, with two titles in the mid-1980's. Her several novels and short stories were nominated for a number of mystery awards such as Agathas, Anthonys, and Macavitys. Her short story, "Too Much to Bare" (in SISTERS IN CRIME 2, edited by Marilyn Wallace; Berkley, 1990) won an Agatha and a Macavity. Her last novel is THE PAINTED QUEEN (Morrow, 2017), which she completed after her close friend Elizbeth Peters (aka. Barbara Mertz, 1927-2013) had died leaving this Amelia Peabody novel unfinished. She was 68. (November 25, 2017)

Jane Langton, William Link, Peter Lovesey To Receive MWA Grand Master Awards

The Mystery Writers of America has chosen Jane Langton, William Link and Peter Lovesey as the 2018 Grand Masters for their "important contributions to this genre," as well as "for a body of work that is both significant and of consitent hight quality."

The 2018 Raven Award recipients are The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, and Kristopher Zgorski, the founder of the crime fiction book review blog, BOLO Books.

The 2018 Ellery Queen Award recipient is Robert Pepin, the founder of Le Seuil publishing company in France, "which successfully introduced the finest American crime writers ot the French public."

They will receive their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet to be held in New York City on April 26, 2018. (November 21, 2017)

Albert Ashforth Dies

I just found out that Albert Ashforth died on July 14 in New York City, NY after a long illness. The former State University of New York professor wrote MURDER AFTER THE FACT (St. Martin's, 1984) and two Army intelligence officer Alex Klear novels: THE RENDITION (2012) and ON EDGE (2016: both from Oceanview Publishing). He also wrote short stories for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and a couple of anthologies such as CRIME SQUARE (edited by Robert J. Randisi; Vintage Point) and KWIK KRIMES (edited by Otto Penzler; Thomas & Mercer). He was 84. (November 13, 2017)