Sunday, May 5, 2013

Special Report from Michael and Stanley: Malice Domestic

We spent the weekend at Malice Domestic – the mystery book convention that leans towards cozies - that takes place at the beginning of May in Bethesda.  It’s a great convention, much smaller than Bouchercon which gives it the sort of intimacy that you also find across the water at Crimefest in Bristol at the end of the month.  Here are a few impressions of Malice 2013 – the twenty-fifth anniversary event.

It started with a bang with Malice Go Round – sort of speed dating with authors.  It takes place in a big venue with 20 round tables seating ten people each.  Authors pair up –two per table – and they have two minutes each to introduce themselves and pitch their books.  There is a thirty second warning and then the authors move to the next higher numbered table, giving the readers a few seconds to make notes before the next pair of authors settles and starts dishing out hand-outs, bookmarks, cards and the like.  The volume rises as the authors talk louder to make themselves heard over the other authors who have started talking louder for the same reason.  It takes one and a half hours!

Michael using his two minutes at Malice Go Round
Malice Go Round sounds nightmarish, but it’s actually good fun.  The readers have a chance to meet forty authors face to face for a couple of minutes, long enough to decide if they would like to follow up by going to that author’s panel discussion or taking a look at the author’s book in the bookroom.  And for authors, how often do you have the chance to pitch a book directly to 160 mystery book readers?  Admittedly, we had a big advantage: since there are two of us, we could take turns pitching Kubu and DEADLY HARVEST.  We were tired at the end of Malice Go Round; the other authors must have been exhausted!

Then there were the usual panels of four authors being put through their paces on some topic or other of mystery interest.  Also in depth discussions with the guests of honor and honorees:

Laura Lippman – Guest of Honor - with the Agatha teacup

Peter Robinson – International Guest of Honor

Aaron Elkins – Life Time Achievement Award

Carolyn Hart – Amelia Award

The highlight was the Agatha Award Banquet, a very posh affair with Laura Lippman doing an excellent job as toastmaster.  Harper invited us to join Peter Robinson’s table.  In addition to Peter and his wife we had the company of Harper editors and authors to enjoy, including Caroline Todd, one half of the Charles Todd writing team, who was up for Best Historical Mystery.

  A little mellowed by food and wine, we awaited the announcement of the Agatha Awards.

And the winners were:

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse, by Penny Warner

Best Short Story
Mischief in Mesopotamia, by Dana Cameron (Dana was so overwhelmed by the award that she momentarily forgot her husband’s name when it came time to thank him!)

Best Nonfiction
Books to die for: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, by John Connolly and Declan Burke

Best Historical Mystery
Danny Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder, by Catriona McPherson

Best First Novel
Low Country Boil, by Susan M. Boyer

Best Novel
The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny.

A good time was had by all and the winners and losers adjourned to the bar for a celebratory or congratulatory drink!

Michael & Stanley – Monday.


  1. Thanks, Gents, for the update. Malice seems anything but malicious. Looking forward to seeing you in Bristol. Happy book touring in the meanwhile.

  2. Sounds like a blast! Especially the roundtable romp! Can't wait to see you guys at CrimeFest. Just booked the tickets out of Mykonos to Bristol. Would have been cheaper to fly to Bethesda:)

  3. A good time was had by all :) I just finished "Deadly Harvest." I found it wonderful, and very sobering. Thank you.

  4. Thanks, Lil. Indeed this muti murders are very scary.
    Jeff, can't wait to see you! We just saw your signature at Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Pittsburgh. You know where!