by | Oct 18, 2017 | Chris Goff, The Writer's Life, On writing | 3 comments

Francine Mathews writes:
Just got back from Bouchercon 2017, the World Mystery Convention, which took Toronto by storm this past weekend. I’ll offer up a smattering of impressions–the way the bell in the neighboring old Town Hall tolled the hour and made me feel, as I fell off to sleep each night, that I must somehow be in England; the excitement of so many people who love mystery and suspense talking about it in one place; and the glorious orchid pink silk jacket Sara Paretsky wore to our Saturday morning panel. I wish I had a picture of that, and the jaunty way her matching scarf framed her beautiful silver hair, but what I’ll remember instead is her sobering plea to everyone in the audience: Post on your social media accounts that the enrollment period for Obamacare has been cut from twelve weeks to six. She received an ovation from the standing-room only crowd.

The enrollment period for Obamacare has been cut from twelve weeks to six.

I’m enough of an introvert that the impact of so many people and voices gave me a headache each day, so I ventured out into the misty northern city for a blast of fresh air whenever I could. Toronto is diverse, cosmopolitan, invigorating. I trekked to the Hockey Hall of Fame on behalf of my two sons, where I zeroed in on a case full of pucks and bought commemorative T-shirts. I had dinner with an editor at the Fifth Grill–a rooftop aerie perched on a renovated warehouse. And I connected with some of my fellow Rogues over food and wine. They have Bouchercon  adventures of their own…

S. Lee Manning writes:
It was hours of driving from Vermont: across the border into Quebec, where I stopped to try out my meager French, then spanning the plains of Ontario while listening to jazz and country music on my I-Phone, an hour of crawling through rush hour Toronto traffic, until I finally reached the Sheraton and Bouchercon – and it was worth every minute of the drive.

The best panel that I attended: the Exonerations – true stories of innocent people who spent decades behind bars before the truth was uncovered. 

The best meal – hard to say.  For lunches and dinners, I visited with old friends and made new friends. There was the day I ate two lunches, and yes, ate dinner as well. 

The best time – poker. I finally found the legendary Bouchercon poker game. It was a twenty dollar buy-in, and eleven of us played for hours. The first night, I walked away four dollars down. The second night, won back my stake and an extra two dollars. Fellow Rogue Chris Goff, and a fellow player, was convinced that I bluffed my way into winning a few hands. Did I? You’ll never know.

Chris Goff writes: 
S. Lee, you were definitely bluffing on at least one of the hands—I think. Heck, it’s a crazy enough poker game it’s impossible to ever know who is or isn’t bluffing. Half the time it’s impossible to know what game is being played. But the whiskey is good, the company outstanding, and sometimes you win. Not this time for me! Up on Friday, down on Saturday. Still worth it!

While Francine admired Sara Paretsky’s beautiful pink jacket (she wore it to the Sisters in Crime breakfast that morning, too—gorgeous), I did a little panel hopping, bidding on silent auction offerings, and perusing of vintage paperbacks. I couldn’t resist and came home with four. I may be on the way to a new collection. I also bought three

books by Chris Grabenstein, which he graciously signed to The

Burton Middle School Students. Burton is a Title 1 school where my youngest daughter teaches history. Lots of ESL students and reluctant readers, and they love getting new books for their in-class library.

One of my favorite memories was sitting on the Motivation panel. I was sandwiched between Simon Gervais, a Canadian spy thriller writer with a sexy French accent, and Peter Robinson, a Canadian procedural writer with a sexy British accent. Along with the other panelists we talked about motives for writing, characters, murder, and how the fire alarm bell sounded more like a gentle reminder than a warning. If I would admit to a fan girl moment, this was it!

Jamie Freveletti writes:
Sandy and Chris you attended the famed and secret Bouchercon Poker Party! I’ve been trying to jump in on this for years, but something always comes up and I miss it. I remember one year asking Lee Child if I should go and he said, “Can you play poker?” I replied no, and he said “Then we want you there!” Which made me laugh. 

The panel close to my heart was the one for the non fiction book that I contributed to, along with Laurie King, Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, our own Gayle Lynds, and others, called  Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted and that’s because writing for this book impacted me profoundly. The true stories hit you and all of the proceeds go to the Life After Innocence Project founded by writer Laura Caldwell. Alafair Burke later posted that she loved the panel and I’m glad she did because it’s a book that gives to a very good cause. 

El Catrin Restaurant The Distillery District Toronto

After the panel local friends took me to the Distillery District in Toronto and it’s another highlight! Picture old brick warehouses turned into art galleries and stores and restaurants. Families strolled and the restaurants were lively. We went to Elcatrin, a wonderful Mexican restaurant with the coolest, almost surreal decor that I have ever seen. I snapped this picture of the far wall. The food was excellent and if you head to Toronto I highly recommend this restaurant.I loved Toronto and Bouchercon is always memorable. Already looking forward to St. Petersburg Florida next year!

Hey, Rogue Readers! Any memories of Bouchercon you’d like to share? Post in the comments below!

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Gayle Lynds

    What a terrific time y'all must've had. From panels to fellow authors to meals, you really gave the event life. Thank you!

  2. Karna Bodman

    What a great report on a great conference. Wish I could have joined you all there (especially in the poker game). Thanks for filling us in on the premier mystery/suspense panels, great authors and all the rest.

  3. S. Lee Manning

    It was a fun time. Missed both of you. Next time, Karna, maybe the Rogues can sponsor a poker game.