Romance authors put their ‘shipping superpowers to the test in the Meet Cute game, where they must imagine how two disparate characters might meet.
Romance authors put their ‘shipping superpowers to the test in the Meet Cute game, where they must imagine how two disparate characters might meet.
New York, NY (March 16, 2017) – Last night, at the New School in New York, the National Book Critics Circle announced the recipients of its book awards for publishing year 2016. The winners include Louise Erdrich’s LaRose (Harper), a haunting novel about an accidental shooting and its aftermath for two Native American families; and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown), a narrative nonfiction account of tenants and landlords in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Ishion Hutchinson was awarded the poetry prize for House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a collection that traces the landscapes of memory, childhood and the author’s native Jamaica. The criticism award was presented to Carol Anderson for White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury), a searing critique of white America’s systematic resistance to African-American advancement.
Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf) was given the prize in autobiography; it is a witty memoir of her life as geobiologist as well as an eloquent mediation on botany. The biography prize went to Ruth Franklin for Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright), about the author of “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House,” and the challenges of being a wife, mother and professional writer in mid-century America.
Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf), an ambitious novel that spans continents and centuries to wrap its arms around the African-American experience of slavery, was the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, recognizing an outstanding first book in any genre. Gyasi was born in Ghana and grew up partly in Alabama. She has an English degree from Stanford, an MFA from the University of Iowa, and now lives in New York.
The recipient of the 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, given to an NBCC member for exceptional critical work, was Michelle Dean. Dean’s journalism and criticism appears regularly in The Guardian, The New Republic, and other venues. Her book Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having an Opinion, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic. The Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.
The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award was Margaret Atwood. Born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario, Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She is the author of some 16 novels, eight collections of short stories, eight children’s books, 17 volumes of poetry, 10 collections of nonfiction, as well as small press editions, television and radio scripts, plays, recordings, and editions. Her lifetime contribution to letters and book culture include groundbreaking fiction, environmental and feminist activism, and service to community as a cofounder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada.
In addition, the NBCC announced the first recipients of its Emerging Critics Fellowship, a new initiative which aspires to identify, nurture, and support the development of the next generation of book critics. The fellows are Taylor Brorby, Paul W. Gleason, Zachary Graham, Yalie Saweeda Kamara, Summer McDonald, Ismail Muhamad, and Heather Scott Partington.
Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are given annually to honor outstanding writing and to foster a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. The awards are open to any book published in the United States in English (including translations). The National Book Critics Circle comprises more than 700 critics and editors from leading newspapers, magazines and online publications.
Recipients of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards
Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury)
Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)
Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright)
Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown)
Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)
The John Leonard Prize
Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award
The NBCC Emerging Critics Fellowships
Paul W. Gleason
Yalie Saweeda Kamara
Heather Scott Partington
Bios of award recipients:
Ishion Hutchinson is the author of two poetry collections, House of Lords and Commons and Far District. Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, he moved to the U.S. in 2006 for graduate studies. He’s the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, a Lannan Writing Residency, and the Larry Levis Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.
Carol Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Professor Anderson’s research and teaching focus on public policy; particularly the ways that domestic and international policies intersect through the issues of race, justice and equality in the United States. Professor Anderson is also the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955 and Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960. White Rage is a New York Times bestseller, and a New York Times Editor’s Pick for July 2016.
Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996, when she completed her PhD at University of California Berkeley and began teaching and researching first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of the Young Investigator Medals given within the Earth Sciences. She was a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu from 2008 to 2016, where she built the Isotope Geobiology Laboratories, with support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. She currently holds the J. Tuzo Wilson professorship at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Ruth Franklin is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic. She has written for many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and Salmagundi. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2011), was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Matthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and codirector of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he is the author of the award-winning book, On the Fireline, coauthor of two books on race, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker and Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant.
Louise Erdrich is the author of 15 novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. She is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her debut novel, Love Medicine. She has also won the National Book Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE
The National Book Critics Circle, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1974 at New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel by a group of the most influential critics of the day, and awarded its first set of honors the following year. Comprising nearly 600 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, the NBCC annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the best books published in the past year in the United States. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the publishing industry. The finalists for the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of critics and editors from some of the country’s leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in these publications. For more information about the history and activities of the National Book Critics Circle and to learn how to become a supporter, visit http://www.bookcritics.org.
Deadline for Submissions is January 13, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The Florida Book Awards kicks off its eleventh annual competition with a call for entries in ten categories.
Established in 2006 and now the most comprehensive state book awards program in the nation, the contest recognizes and celebrates the year’s best books written by Sunshine State residents with the exception of submissions to the Florida Nonfiction and Visual Arts categories, whose authors may live elsewhere.
Two new categories are created—Younger Children’s Literature (approximately ages 0 – 6 and Older Children’s Literature (approximately ages 7 – 12.) Prior to this year there was only one Children’s category ages 0 -12. The range and volume of children’s books necessitated the change.
The Florida Book Awards competition is coordinated through the Florida State University Libraries, with the support of partner organizations from across the state. “The Florida Book Awards showcase the best of Florida’s literary talent as well spotlight the state’s fascinating history and rich natural assets,” said Florida State University Libraries Dean Julia Zimmerman.
Other contest categories include Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Spanish Language, Visual Arts, and Young Adult Literature. In 2014, the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Young Children’s Literature” was introduced, which provides a cash prize for the gold winner in the Younger Children’s Literature category. This award is in memory of Gwen P. Reichert and serves as a lasting tribute to honor her accomplishments as a rare book collector, nurturer of authors and their audience, and her commitment to children’s education.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their books into competition any time after the competition is launched, and as soon as possible after books are officially published. Entries, which can be submitted by anyone, must be published between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016, and have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). All entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2016 (this is not a postmark deadline).
Three-person juries –– including members of co-sponsoring organizations, subject experts from the faculties of Florida colleges and universities, and previous Florida Book Award winners –– will choose up to three finalists in each of ten categories. In each category, the jury may award one Gold, Silver and Bronze medal.
Co-sponsors of the competition include humanities organizations from across the state such as the Florida Center for the Book; the State Library and Archives of Florida; the Florida Historical Society; the Florida Humanities Council; the Florida Literary Arts Coalition; the Florida Library Association; the Florida Association for Media in Education; the Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College; the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America; Friends of FSU Libraries; the Florida Writers Association; the Florida Literacy Coalition; and “Just Read, Florida!”
The 2016 winners will be announced in early March 2017 and recognized at several events around the state including an awards banquet in April.
Winning books and their authors will be showcased in the summer 2017 issue of FORUM, the statewide magazine of the Florida Humanities Council, and will be featured at book festivals and association conferences throughout the year. In addition, copies of all award-winning books will be put on permanent public display in the Florida Governor’s Mansion library and in Florida State University’s Strozier Library.
Lady Margaret Sawford is a scandal. She’s writes a short story serial for the newspaper, refused to marry her parents choice, and they’ve disowned her. The only family she has is her sister, the Duchess. Lady Margaret is on a crusade to help the poor women of London, often putting herself in harms way.
While at a ball, she sees a man who grabs her attention – he’s tall and good looking, and wears an eye patch which she finds exciting. Most people find the Duke of Lashem very intimidating, and he’s quite proper and takes his ducal responsibilities most seriously. Until he meets Lady Margaret.
The Lady convinces him he needs adventure, and he finds himself accompanying her on her visits to the poor, and falling in love. She finds herself adventuring sexually with him and she falls in love. They adventure together until the happy ending.
I loved these characters, they were imperfect and real. This is the third book of a fun series.
12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
ONE-EYED DUKES ARE WILD by Megan Frampton. Avon (December 29, 2015). ISBN 978-0062412782. 384p.
New York– Otto Penzler, President and Publisher of MysteriousPress.com, has announced a contest for the Mysterious Press Award, which will be given for the best e-book original mystery novel. The winning entry will receive a prize of $25,000 and guaranteed world-wide publication. The winner will be announced at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.
“Digitally published books have become a major element of the publishing landscape over the past few years,” said Penzler. “Our goal is to acknowledge the outstanding work being produced in this format and reward it appropriately. We expect to have some truly wonderful manuscripts submitted for this substantial prize.”
Among those sponsoring the contest will be MysteriousPress.com partners who distribute and market its books: Open Road, in North America and numerous countries around the world; Head of Zeus in the British Commonwealth; Hayakawa Publishing (Japan, Singapore, and South Korea), Bonnier (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland); Dutch Media Books (Holland and Belgium), and Bastei Lubbe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Greece, and selected Eastern European countries). MysteriousPress.com e-books are distributed in China by Trajectory.
Submissions will be accepted from January 1 through April 30, 2016. Entries must be in English and submitted both electronically (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and in printed format (to The Mysterious Press, 58 Warren Street, New York, N.Y. 10007). Limit of one book per author. Initial readings of manuscripts will be handled by editors and associates of MysteriousPress.com. The top three entries will then be circulated to its world-wide partners for a final decision.
The contest is open to established authors as well as first-time novelists. Submissions of complete, full-length novels will be accepted only from accredited literary agents and must never have been published previously in any format. All categories will be considered: Traditional detective stories, hard-boiled, noir, police procedural, suspense, crime, historical, humor—any book in which a crime, or the threat of a crime, is central to the theme or the plot. Horror, supernatural, fantasy, and science fiction works are not eligible. The winner will be chosen based on a variety of criteria, including originality and literary quality. Manuscripts will not be critiqued and will not be returned. Employees of Grove/Atlantic, the Mysterious Bookshop, and MysteriousPress.com and its partners are not eligible. See Official Rules for entry requirements and complete details at our website, www.mysteriouspress.com. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.
The $25,000 prize will be an advance against future royalties. MysteriousPress.com will publish it as an e-book original with print-on-demand copies also available. World-wide partners will have all rights (excluding dramatic rights) to publish in all formats.
If you follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page, then you know I spent the weekend in New York at ThrillerFest, my favorite conference! I got to chat with all pf my favorite authors – Lee Child, Greg Iles, Sandra Brown, Jon Land, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Joe Finder and so many more. But for me the best part is meeting new authors, and finding new books to read! And did I mention they give away tons of books at this conference? It’s a book hoarder’s, I mean book collector’s dream, especially as all the authors are there to sign their books.
The conference ends with the Thriller Awards banquet. I admit I skipped it and went to see Jason Alexander in Larry David’s Fish in the Dark on Broadway, but I did find out who won all the awards – congratulations to all the nominees and all the winners.
The Fever, by Megan Abbott (WINNER)
Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes
Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles
Suspicion, by Joseph Finder
That Night, by Chevy Stevens
Moonlight Weeps, by Vinent Zandri (WINNER)
The Buried, by Shelley Coriell
My Sister’s Grave, by Robert Dugoni
Shadow Maker, by James R. Hannibal
Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina
The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh (WINNER)
The Axeman’s Jazz, by Ray Celestin
Invisible City, by Julia Dahl
The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Hard Fall, by C. J. Lyons (WINNER)
13 Hollywood Apes, by Gil Reavill
The Metaxy Project, by Layton Green
Post, by Sean Black
Wannabes, by Michael Logan
Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano (WINNER)
The Eighth Guardian, by Meredith McCardle
Tabula Rasa, by Kristen Lippert-Martin
The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab
Wicked Little Secrets, by Kara Taylor
Big congratulations goes to William Kent Krueger, who in an unusual twist, won both the Barry Award & the Macavity Award for Ordinary Grace (Atria Books.)
The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted on by members and friends of Mystery Readers International and subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. Nominations are for works published in the U.S. in 2013. Winners were announced last night at Bouchercon, in Long Beach, California.
Best Mystery Novel
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)
Best First Mystery
A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames (Seventh Street Books)
Best Mystery Short Story
“The Care and Feeding of Houseplants” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013)
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell (Little, Brown)
Congratulations to everyone!
From the New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes a brand-new e-short story with the added bonus of three short stories from the Eighteen anthology.
Apprehended is a mini-anthology containing a brand new short story from Jan Burke: “The Unacknowledged,” which features the fan-favorite investigative reporter Irene Kelly, back in her journalism school days. Also included are three short stories from the previously published Eighteen: “Why Tonight,” “A Fine Set of Teeth,” and “A Man of My Stature.”
Praise for Eighteen:
“Astonishing…wry…these stories are sure to delight.” —New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver
“A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant—and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke’s at the top of her game.” —New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman
I made sure we were alone. That was actually the hardest part. After realizing that no restaurant in the city would be free of people who might know Donna, I ended up inviting her over for dinner on a night when I knew Lydia had an evening class. Until two months earlier, Lydia and I had shared the place with another roommate, but she had married over the summer. We had been putting off finding another renter, but tonight I was glad for the lack of a potential eavesdropper, enjoying the emptiness and quiet that usually had me thinking that I was going to have to move back home again.
Donna and I made small talk until after I cleared the dishes. She seemed a little down. All the same, she was an easy person to talk to. I was fighting some very cynical thinking about that as I pulled out some photocopies I had made.
I had thought of going all Perry Mason on her ass, cross-examining her until she wept and admitted her crimes. I couldn’t do it. The truth is, I liked her.
“I had a special assignment given to me this week,” I said. “Do you know who Jack Corrigan is?”
She shook her head. My tone must have hardened, or my look, or—somehow I tipped her off that the nature of our little dinner party was about to change.
“Well, I suppose that doesn’t matter. I have a feeling that you do know who Cassie Chadwick was.”
She, who blushed so easily, turned pale. She looked at me with such desperation that, for a full minute, I wasn’t sure if she was going to cry, run away, or punch me. But she just nodded yes and looked down at her hands.
“If she hadn’t harmed so many people,” I said, “I could almost admire her cunning, not to mention her nerve. After running a number of other scams, she marries a naive doctor from Cleveland, just happens to convince him that they should visit New York at the same time a man from home is there—a man who is a high-society gossip in Cleveland. She asks that man to give her a carriage ride, and has him wait for her outside the home of Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy, confirmed bachelor. She goes into the house, comes out thirty minutes later, and—this part really interested me—trips as she’s getting into the carriage. Drops a promissory note for two million dollars—a note that appears to be signed by Andrew Carnegie, whom she blushingly claims is her father.”
She stayed silent.
“Too bad promissory notes aren’t what they used to be. Planning to borrow millions based on phony documents, and cause a bank or two to fail?”
“I didn’t think so.” I let the silence stretch for a time, then said, “Who told you about Cassie Chadwick?”
“Aunt Lou, my great aunt. She grew up hearing stories about her. Aunt Lou claimed to ‘admire her brass’ as she put it. Aunt Lou doesn’t think women ever get a fair shake in this world.”
“Is Donna Vynes your real name?”
“My married name, yes.” She was tracing patterns on the tablecloth with one of her perfect fingers, still not making eye contact.
“So you’re really a war widow?”
The finger stopped moving. She looked up at me. “Oh yes. And my mother is dead. John, my husband, sent home all of his pay—a little over a hundred and fifty dollars a month at first. It was up to about four hundred when he was killed. Just about everything he saved for us got spent on my mother’s medical needs. But John also bought some life insurance through the service. So I had ten thousand from that.”
“That’s where the seven thousand comes from?”
“Yes.” She sighed. “There was this neighbor of Aunt Lou’s in Cleveland. Her daughter was about my age. Despite all my other faults, I’m not like Eldon, so I won’t name her, if you don’t mind. Anyway, at the end of last semester, she dropped out of school here. Looking back on it now, I think she was just really homesick.
“But what she told me was . . . well, once we got to know each other, she said the reason she left was because Eldon Naff slept with her and then told the world about it. She said she had been working as an assistant for Mr. Langworthy, or rather to someone on his staff. She said it was Mr. Langworthy who fired her, mostly based on Eldon’s gossip. I don’t know if that’s true, but I learned a lot about Mr. Langworthy from her. Including the fact that in early September, he was going on a Mediterranean cruise.
“And I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Carnegie and Mrs. Chadwick. Especially because I never knew my dad. My mother always said my father died while she was pregnant with me, but I think she was lying. Aunt Lou all but confirmed that my parents weren’t married. So I am illegitimate, just not the child of a rich man.”
After a long silence, she said, “God, I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad you figured it out. It’s a relief.”
Link continuing the excerpt to XOXOAfterDark:
With a brand-new short story featuring Tyler Hawthorne from The Messenger, plus three stories from Eighteen, this is the third of six e-short story collections from New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke.
At this hour, although two other attendants roamed another part of the cemetery, Tyler and Shade were alone in this section of the hilly grounds. Suddenly Shade stiffened. His ears pitched forward and his hackles rose. He gave a low, soft growl.
Tyler came to a halt. Shade protected him, but the dog seldom growled at living beings.
In the next moment, the air was filled with what he at first took to be bats, then saw were small birds, of a type Tyler had never seen so far inland. “Mother Carey’s chickens,” he said, using the sailors’ name for them. Storm petrels. “What are they doing here?”
The birds fluttered above him, then a half dozen dropped to the ground before Shade in a small cluster. The scent of the sea rose strongly all about him, as if someone had transported him to the deck of a ship.
Shade stared hard at them as they cheeped frantically, then the dog relaxed into a sitting position.
The other petrels flew away. No sooner had they gone than the six before him were transformed into the ghostly figures of men.
They were forlorn creatures, gray-faced and looking exactly as what they must be, drowned men. Their uniforms proclaimed two as officers, the other four as sailors, all but one of the British navy.
Shade’s demeanor told him that these ghosts—unlike some others—would be no threat to him.
“May I be of help to you?” Tyler asked.
“Captain Hawthorne?” the senior officer asked.
“I believe the rank belongs more rightly to you,” Tyler said. “I was a captain in the British army many years ago, but I sold out after Waterloo.”
“Yes, sir,” the captain said, “I understand. If I may introduce myself to you, I am Captain Redding, formerly of the Royal Navy. Lost at sea in about your—your original time, sir.”
They exchanged bows.
“You are a Messenger?” Captain Redding asked.
“We are all men who drowned at sea. Many of those in the flock you called ‘Mother Carey’s chickens’ are indeed just that. We come from many nations, taken by that sea witch Mother Carey, yet death has made us all birds of a feather. Little birds tell other little birds news of those such as yourself, and speak of Shade as well.”
The dog gave a slight wag of his tail in acknowledgment.
The captain went on. “The midshipman we bring to you is an American. Hails from here in Buffalo. We approach you on his behalf.” He turned to the man. “Step forward, Midshipman Bailey, and tell the captain your story, for we’ve not much time left.”
“Aye, sir.” The midshipman gave Tyler a small bow. “Thank you, sir. If you would be so kind to visit my sister, who lies dying not far from here. In the asylum, sir. The good one. We’ve all of us in her family done her a grave injustice.” He looked down at his feet. “Many injustices.”
“When were you lost at sea?” Tyler asked gently.
“Eight years ago, sir, in ’63. In the War Between the States. Would have done more for my country if Zeb Nador hadn’t pushed me overboard in a storm.”
“Do you ask me to seek justice for you?”
“Not necessary for me, Nador’s in the county jail here and will face trial for murdering someone else. He’ll hang as well for that one as for what he did to me.”
Tyler was about to try to say something to comfort him, unsure what that might be, when one of the other men whispered, “Hurry!”
Midshipman Bailey nodded, then said, “Will you go to her, sir? Her name is Susannah. She needs you tonight. And if you’d tell her Andrew sent you to her, and that she was always the best of his sisters, and that he sees things clearer now, and hopes to one day rest at her side—”
“Hurry!” the captain ordered.
“Well, sir, I’d take it as a great kindness.”
“I would be honored to do so, Midshipman Bailey.”
“Thank you!” he said, and had no sooner whispered these words than all six men again transformed into small birds and rose from the ground. They circled in the air above him, where they were joined again by the larger flock. He had thought they would begin their long journey back to the sea, but they surprised him by surrounding him and the dog.
Quite clearly, he heard hundreds of voices whisper to him at once, “Storm’s coming!”
And they were gone.
Shade immediately headed toward the nearest gate at a brisk trot. He glanced back at Tyler in impatience. Tyler hurried to catch up.
“There is more than one asylum, you know. The closest is still under construction, which leaves Providence Lunatic Asylum and the Erie County Almshouse—”
It wasn’t hard to read the next look he received.
“I apologize. Yes, Sister Rosaline Brown’s would be the ‘good one.’ And of course you will know the way and of course you will be admitted, although large black dogs, as a rule . . .”
Shade wagged his tail.
Providence Lunatic Asylum was operated by the Sisters of Charity, who had previously established a hospital in Buffalo. They had arrived in the city just in time to deal with the early cholera epidemics and were considered heroes by many. In 1860, horrified by conditions in the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum, Sister Rosaline Brown started the asylum, which attempted a more humane treatment of the insane.
The dog paused at the small building closest to the cemetery’s main gate. Tyler understood what he was meant to do. Hailing the man who was keeping watch, Tyler said, “A severe storm is coming. Please call the other men in.”
“Storm?” the man said, bewildered.
“Yes, it’s calm now, but I just saw a flock of storm petrels. Sea birds. The only reason they’d be this far inland is if a hurricane had blown them here.”
He bid the man a quick good night and wondered if he would heed the warning.
In the next moment the wind came up, and trees began to rustle and sway. Shade leaped into the gig Tyler had left tied at the gate. Tyler glanced over his shoulder and saw the watchman gather a large lantern, and soon heard him calling out to the others.
Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:
From New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes the fourth of six e-short story collections.
Convicted is a mini-anthology containing a brand-new short story, “The Anchorwoman” featuring a young Irene Kelly, plus three stories from the highly acclaimed Eighteen print anthology: “Revised Endings, “Devotion,” and “The Muse.” Jeffery Deaver, #1New York Times bestselling author of The Kill Room, praised Eighteen as “Astonishing…wry…these stories are sure to delight.” AndNew York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman says, “A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant—and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke’s at the top of her game.”
“So at ten o’clock on Wednesday, five clowns—probably males—jumped out of a moving van parked in the alley behind your house and started singing ‘Oklahoma!’—do I have it right so far?”
“Did they seem to be looking up at you, singing it to you?”
She hesitated, then said, “I’m not sure. They glanced in my direction every now and then, but they didn’t stand still and serenade me. They moved around, danced, and did high kicks and cartwheels.”
“Then what happened?”
“They climbed back into the van and drove off.”
“Were they all in the cab, or were some riding in the back?”
“Two in the back.”
Illegal and dangerous.
“Did you see anything in the van itself? Furniture?”
“I didn’t get a good look at the back. The angle was wrong.”
I looked at my notes. What hadn’t I asked?
“What about the van itself—Bekins? Allied? North American?—what moving company?”
She was shaking her head before I finished. “Not a moving company. It was a rented van. Las Piernas Rentals.”
“Well—that’s a lucky break.”
“Local rental company with three locations, all within town. If it had been one of the nationals, the truck could have come from anywhere. License-plate number?”
“No, again, I couldn’t see it from that angle.”
“How big was the van?”
“Big. I don’t know.”
I tried to come up with vehicles to compare it with, which didn’t work with her, but when I got her to say how much of the Mickelsons’ house the van had blocked, I had a reasonable idea. Another idea struck me.
“Did you see a number on it? Most rental companies paint numbers on their trucks, to keep track of which ones they’re renting, I suppose.”
“I looked for one, but it had a big piece of paper taped over it—like butcher paper, maybe?”
I hesitated, telling myself that I needed to separate latenineteenth- century fiction from the present problem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
“Cokie, are there any banks or businesses on the other side of the alley?”
“There’s a row of homes, that’s all.”
“Anybody doing any kind of business out of a house that you know of?”
“I mean any kind of business. Any pot growers? Drug dealers?”
“No! We did have a problem when Auggie and Andrea Sands lived at the end of the cul-de-sac, but their mom kicked them out. That was about three years ago.”
“She kicked them out for selling drugs?” Lydia asked.
We had known the Sands twins in high school. Always in trouble.
“Kicked Auggie out for selling drugs, and Andrea for banging her boyfriend in the living room. Their mom came home early with a friend from work. Guess that was the last straw.”
“How did their mom find out that Auggie was dealing?”
“One of the neighbors told her.”
“No. I didn’t want to mess with those people.”
“Do Andrea and Auggie know you weren’t the one?”
She frowned. “They should. They have no reason to think I would tell on them.”
I exchanged a glance with Lydia and moved on.
“Anyone in the neighborhood angry with you?”
“You think singing clowns is a sign of aggression?”
“A possibility, anyway.”
She smiled. “I’m so glad you see it that way. My parents think it was something fun, as if I have a secret admirer. But it doesn’t feel that way to me. It seemed to me that someone wanted . . . well, to ridicule me.”
I bent my head over my notes and hoped my hair hid my blush. I certainly felt ashamed of my meaner thoughts about her.
“It seems crazy to think that,” she went on, “but . . . it didn’t make me happy, it made me feel as if I had been targeted, and someone went to a lot of trouble to do it. I’m a little scared by that. But I can’t think of anyone who would feel that mad at me. I get along with my neighbors. I’m one of the last young people still living on our street, and I try to help my older neighbors. I visit them. I run errands for them.”
A passage in “The Red-Headed League” came to mind:
“As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious
it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are
really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to
Easy for him to say. But was there some commonplace crime hiding beneath all that clown makeup?
“Cokie, what would you normally be doing on a Wednesday morning at about that time?”
“Normally, I’d be playing canasta with the widows.”
“I hate to admit it, but I don’t understand.”
“You know, the card game.”
“Yes, I even know how to play it. Who are the widows?”
“Oh. Three of my neighbors. One day Mrs. Redmond—she’s across the street and one house down—mentioned to me how much she loved the canasta parties that used to be held on the
street. I talked to a couple of people about it, and long story short, we started playing canasta at her house on Wednesday mornings.”
“Who are the other players?”
“Just two, Mrs. Harding and Mrs. Lumfort.”
“Who knows that you do this?”
“Everyone on our street.”
“So because of the clowns, you arrived late?”
“No, we didn’t have a game that day. Mrs. Harding was . . . out of town. Mrs. Lumfort had a doctor’s appointment. Mrs. Redmond’s beautician had asked her to move her hair appointment to that morning, so because it was just going to be the two of us, she asked me if I’d mind just canceling. I told her it wasn’t a problem.”
“You hesitated about Mrs. Harding. What was going on with her?”
“Nothing. She went to a lawyer’s appointment with one of her granddaughters. Kayla just moved in with her.”
That name was vaguely familiar. Why did I know it?
“Kayla Harding?” Lydia asked. “My brother Gio used to date her.”
Gio was five years older than Lydia, and the list of girls he dated in high school was only slightly shorter than the list of female students in his graduating class. The fact that he hadn’t been burned in effigy years ago spoke to his abundant charm. Lydia claimed he genuinely cared about all of them, which seemed unlikely.
“Kayla ended up in prison, didn’t she?” Lydia went on. “Stole a car.”
“Yes,” Cokie said, “but she’s been out for a couple of weeks now.”
“Friend of yours?” I asked.
“No. I know her sister better than I know her.”
“Mindy,” Lydia said. “She’s our age.”
“Yes. I’m not close friends with Mindy, either. I just see her when she visits her grandmother.”
“Kind of a Goody-Two-Shoes, isn’t she?” I said.
“That can happen when you’re trying to show the world you aren’t like your troublemaking sister, right?” Lydia said.
Cokie and I shrugged.
“Think of your sister, Barbara,” Lydia said to me.
“I’d rather not,” I said.
“Mindy is Kayla’s half sister,” the ever-informative Cokie said. “Their father is on his third marriage. Widowed once, divorced once, and the third seems to be the charm. So Mindy just claims that she’s ‘only’ a half sister when she gets annoyed at Kayla.”
“Told you she was a bitch,” I said.
“Not exactly,” Lydia said.
“Yeah, well . . .” I glanced at my watch. “We’ve got a couple of hours to try to find the Las Piernas Rentals location that rented out the van.”
I used the Yellow Pages in the phone book to get the three addresses and phone numbers of the rental places, then opened theThomas Guide, a book of detailed maps of Los Angeles County that only a fool would try to live without. A lost fool.
Cokie readily agreed to come along with me, but Lydia, thinking of the discomfort associated with being the third person in a Karmann Ghia, opted out.
Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:
Clare Taylor gave up her fledgling acting career to be a wife and mother, but after a wild week away from her family, she returns home to find an empty house, her family gone, everything gone. As she walks through empty house to the yard, she finds the body of the family dog, eviscerated.
Thinking it is a Halloween prank gone terribly wrong, she awakens the next morning to find the sheriff waiting to padlock the foreclosed home that she believed they owned free and clear. Then a childhood friend of her husband Danny is found dead in the yard, and things become even more frightening and complicated, going back to a Halloween fire when Danny was in high school.
The story moves back and forth from that high school event to present day, but mistaken identities are at the crux of the story, and all the confusion is eventually sorted out. These are complex characters in a story that seems to circumvent logic, yet Hughes makes it all work. Readers who appreciate family thrillers from writers like Harlan Coben or Linwood Barclay will find much to enjoy here.
Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.
6/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE by Declan Hughes. Severn House Publishers; Sew edition (June 1, 2014). ISBN 978-0727883711. 288p.