by Gayle Lynds
by Richard Cass
Now that summer has passed us by and those of us up here in the great tourist destination of Maine can breathe again, I’m pleased to accept the invitation of Rogue Women Writers to introduce you to some of the better crime writers in the state. (Modesty prohibits us from calling ourselves the best—the competition is too good.) What we do have in common, though, is that our books have at one time or another, won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction, given annually by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.
In alphabetical order (still keeping those egos damped …) let me introduce you to:
Winner: Straw Man, 2017, and Random Act, 2020
Gerry is the author of 15 crime novels set mostly in hardscrabble rural Maine and its languishing mill towns. Like all of his fiction, Boyle’s 12th Jack McMorrow mystery, Random Act, draws on his experience as a newspaper reporter and columnist exploring the places and lives of parts of Maine that are far off the tourist track.
Winner: In Solo Time, 2018
Dick is the author of the Elder Darrow jazz mystery series, the story of an alcoholic who walks into a dive bar in Boston and decides to buy it. Elder believes that being around drinkers and alcohol all day and night might give him a better chance of controlling his desire for single-malt Scotch in deadly quantities. It’s not an approved twelve-step program, but it gives him some (tenuous) hope, where nothing else has worked. At the same time, he wants to turn the Esposito, the dive bar, into a jazz night spot—he is a rabid fan of the music.
Elder is a Brahmin, from the historically wealthy and powerful part of the city’s populace; his Homicide detective sidekick Dan Burton hails from the rougher blue-collar side of the city, Charlestown. Boston, like most major cities, deals in all kinds of political, racial, social, and cultural conflicts, which allow great latitude in having characters engage with these issues from their unique perspectives. The books have a neo-noir flavor, less dark than realistic.
In Solo Time won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction in 2018. The second book, Solo Act, was a finalist in 2017. No, the dates are not transposed—Solo Act was published first and In Solo Time, its prequel, second. The other books in the series, in actual order, are Burton’s Solo, Last Call at the Esposito, and the just published Sweetie Bogans’s Sorrow.
Winner: And Grant You Peace, 2015, and Redemption, 2013
Kate’s family goes back to well before Maine became a state, with ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, including one who captured a British ship in the river off Wiscasset. Kate is proud to call herself a Maniac. Thirty-five years ago she left practicing law to raise her boys and follow her life-long dream of becoming a writer. What fascinates her most is how what she’s called to write keeps changing, and how those changes change her and her writing going forward.
She’s published more than 20 short stories and been an editor and publisher of seven anthologies of crime stories by New England writers. She wrote a stand-alone suspense novel, Steal Away, as Katharine Clark, published two true crimes, a co-written memoir, and a nonfiction book about police shootings. She’s written nine books in her Thea Kozak mystery series and six in her Joe Burgess police procedural series.
This year she published her first (and likely last) romantic suspense novel, Wedding Bell Ruse, plus a fictional short story about Huey Long in The Faking of the President, and an essay about living through a pandemic in a collection called Stop The World. Many of her books can be found at Kelly’s Books to Go.
Winner: Stowed Away, 2019
Barb is the author of eight Maine Clambake Mysteries about amateur sleuth Julia Snowden, whose family runs a clambake on a private island off the coast of Maine. Her Maine Clambake novellas as well as novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis are included in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing.
Barbara also writes the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries about a woman who uses her spare time in retirement to hire herself out as a professional busybody and becomes the go-to girl for situations that need fixing. The first in the series was published just this summer: Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody. Barb’s books are available at Kelly’s Books to Go.
Have you ever visited Maine, dear Rogue Readers? Oh, the lobsters, the rocky coastline, the multitude of islands with their stories…. Please tell!