Monday, June 17, 2013

Scene of the CrimeFest.

A bit of background and a brief introduction…

Martin Luther’s quotation, “I can do no other,” succinctly sums up our buddy Leighton Gage’s motivation for putting one hundred and ten percent into everything he writes.  No where is that pledge to his readers more evident than in his seven Mario Silva novels, called “top notch…controversial and entirely absorbing” by The New York Times and “a world class procedural series” by The Wall Street Journal. 

It is Leighton who by his example inspires each of us to bring our A-game to every MIE post, every day, every week.

Keep it fresh, keep it strong is Leighton’s motto, and that’s precisely what’s guided him to a decision we all deeply regret, but fully understand.  Leighton is a writing master who refuses to give his readers anything less than his absolute best work, something he believes he cannot do while confronting his current health problems.  He has decided to step down as a regular MIE contributor so that he may concentrate on his recovery efforts.  Our hopes and prayers are with Leighton and Eide and we look forward to seeing him back here with us soon.

Another Martin Luther quote comes to mind at this moment: "Even if I knew that the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

That, too, has Leighton written all over it, for even as he faces serious personal challenges he’s taken the time to plant a strong new tree in his Monday slot by personally selecting who shall occupy his place.  In the words of The Washington Post, Annamaria Alfieri writes exotic South American tales that “glitter” “as both history and mystery.” Her debut novel, City of Silver, was called by some “one of the best first novels of the year” (Deadly Pleasures Magazine) and her second, Invisible Country, was compared to “the notable novels of Charles Todd” (Kirkus Reviews).  Blood Tango (coming June 25, 2013 from St. Martin’s) is Annamaria’s latest novel and imagines the murder of an Evita Perón lookalike amid 1945 Buenos Aires.

Annamaria is a person of many talents, so much so that she needs two names.  As Patricia King she’s written five books on business subjects, including Never Work for a Jerk (featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show), and her current Monster Boss.  As Pat King, she’s also serving her second term as President of the New York City Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

It is with great pleasure I welcome our new colleague, Annamaria Alfieri, to Murder is Everywhere.  We’re all proud, especially Leighton.

PS.  The thought of Leighton smiling just gave me an idea. One I’m sure will put a big smile on the big fellow’s face and a warm feeling in each of our hearts: May I suggest we all immediately buy at least one copy of one of Leighton’s seven Mario Silva masterpieces from our local independent bookstore, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble?  Or buy all seven and feel downright giddy. :)


CrimeFest Headquarters Hotel

As we say in New York, I didn’t know from Bristol. I had made a brief stop there years ago while touring the west of England, but true New Yorker that I am, all I did on that occasion was visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge, because I had heard it looked like the Brooklyn Bridge.  

Clifton Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
It does, but without the cathedral-like quality, and definitely without Yonas Schimmel’s Knish Bakery within walking distance.   

So, while I was in the town for CrimeFest, before the Murder is Everywhere crowd arrived to buy me drinks, I took myself on a walking tour.  Threatening weather held at bay that Wednesday so I had a comfortable stroll, following the Michelin Green Guide itinerary, which started and ended just a few minutes from my hotel.

Warehouses converted into condos along the river

From the Norman Arch, my path skirted @Bristol, the science museum, and crossed Pero’s Bridge.  It’s a bascule bridge, a term I didn’t know.  It means the span moves, using counter weights, to open the channel for boat traffic.  In this case, the weights were designed to be modern sculptures.  

Norman Arch
Pero's Bridge

I was surprised to learn that the bridge was named after a slave, but then, on the other side of the canal, at the M Shed Museum, I learned of Bristol’s connection to the slave trade.  It turns out that though the town was first settled in the 10th Century and was England’s second largest city in the Middle Ages, it did not thrive economically until its 17th and 18th century residents made huge fortunes in the slave trade.   The museum’s exhibition, in its own form of counterbalancing, juxtaposes the slaving history with that of modern citizens’ political activism.

The Old Town Walk then took me through lovely Queen Square and along cobbled King Street with its 18th and 19th century warehouses, a 17th century alms house, and Llandoger Trow—a historic pub, where I stopped off for fish and chips.

Queen Square
King Street
The Llandoger Trow

The next monument was St. Stephen’s Church, with its beautiful tower.  On that Wednesday afternoon the way in was to go into a café and then through a door marked exit to find the sanctuary.  One of the memorials of local merchants was decorated with a jaunty modern addition.

St. Stephen's Tower

Ancient merchant remembered
Corn Street was once a precinct of traders and money exchangers, but now the building houses a collection of small stalls selling finger food and general touristy grot.

Corn Street
St. Nicholas Market

The Church of John the Baptist straddles a medieval gate of the city and has an interesting interior, but it can’t hold a candle to the grand finale of the tour—Bristol Cathedral.  There has been a church on its site for a thousand years.  The 14th Century English Gothic structure was first named for St. Augustine and renamed in the Reformation.   A sign over a donations box said it takes £2 per minute to maintain it.  I paid my share on my way out.

Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral interior
That evening, Michael phoned and ended my lonely rambling by inviting me to a delightful dinner with Bill and Toby Gottfried.  By Thursday, the others arrived and the festivities already reported here got underway.  It was my first CrimeFest.  I hope not miss it in the future.

Stanley, Annamaria, Jeff, Caro, Yrsa, Michael



  1. I look forward to Annamaria's posts which I know will be wonderful or she would not have been invited to join your group. But MIE needs Leighton and I am but one of the followers of this blog who eagerly await his return.

    Prayers for Leighton and Eide and best wishes for his speedy recovery.

    Thank you, Jeff, for sharing the information. I was concerned that he had not posted in recently.


  2. Thanks, Beth. I consider myself a place holder for my dear and generous friend and colleague, Leighton. We are all sending him love and healing thoughts and prayers.

  3. Lovely blog, and thank you for the sightseeing. I'm sorry to hear about Leighton's health issues. I'm wishing Leighton good things and a speedy recovery.

  4. Thank you, lil. I am sure Leighton and Eide are collecting and glad to receive all these good wishes.

  5. Welcome Annamaria ! So glad you're with us

    1. Merci bien! Cara. I am honored to be a part of MIE.