Thursday, November 11, 2021

Twelve years of MIE!

 Michael, Stanley, and Annamaria -Thursday

Today is the twelfth anniversary of Murder Is Everywhere! There have been nearly four thousand posts, more than twenty-five thousand comments, and almost five million page views. So we thought it would be fun to take a whistle-stop tour of past and present contributors and how it all started a dozen years ago.  It began at a Bouchercon panel in 2009. I wasn't there, but Annamaria was in the audience. This is how she remembers it:

The high point of Bouchercon for me was the panel, “Murder at the Edge of the Map.“ Otherwise, all I remember is that I knew almost no one there and – since my first novel launched only two months before – I felt like a complete outsider. I had not yet gotten over my fear of a room full of strangers. But since the title of the panel exactly described my “City of Silver,” I went to find out what others writing of exotic locations had to say. The discussion was lively, incisive, and entertaining. Afterwords, having only recently fallen in love with Botswana, I threw caution to the wind, approached Stan Trollip, and gushed about the setting of his and Michael‘s books. If you had told me then that I would one day be invited to contribute to and then become a regular with them on a blog called Murder is Everywhere, I would have laughed and offered to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Being part of the MIE tribe has brought me great blessings of friendship and – more to the point -a daily peephole  into the minds, hearts, and territories of some of the loveliest people and best writers I know. VIVA MIE!

Leighton Gage was the writer behind making it all happen. Stan recalls it this way:

The first time I met Leighton Gage was on the Montmartre in Paris. Typical Leighton. After several hours at a café, I realised how lucky I was that he’d taken a shine to Kubu. After that, as was his wont, he pushed and praised the Detective Kubu mysteries whenever he had a chance.

 One result of this meeting was Leighton asking me to be on a panel he would moderate at Bouchercon 2009 in Indianapolis. The title said it all – Murder at the Edge of the Map – a diverse group of writers setting their stories all over the globe. Leighton = Brazil; Cara Black = Paris; Yrsa Sigurdardottir = Iceland; myself = Botswana. I think the fourth panelist was Stuart Neville = Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

The room was full, and the panel interesting and wide-ranging. We had such a good time, that Leighton suggested that we all get together to write a blog – one comprising writers who set their stories outside the United States. And so Murder is Everywhere was born, with Cara writing the inaugural blog on November 11, 2009.

 As a side note, after the panel was finished, a shy woman sidled up to me, eager to talk about Botswana. And that was the start of a wonderful friendship with Patricia King, aka Annamaria Alfieri.

And on the 11th of November 2009, Cara Black published the inaugural post:


Innaugural Post

Willkommen, Bienvenu, Bienvenidos and Welcome to our blog

Cara here with an inaugural post and some photos of Paris
before I fly off to Milwaukee for the Crimespree and Muskego Library
day of Murder in Muskego.

A few days later, Leighton himself weighed in with a remarkable post about a true crime reporter in Manaus. It started like this:

In his home (and very lawless) town of Manaus, Wallace Souza made a name for himself as a crusading crime reporter. He became so popular that a network affiliate gave him his very own television show. The structure of Souza’s program was simple: he’d spend the first half-hour in the studio, railing against criminality and criminals. Then, in the second half of his show, Souza would take to the streets. He’d visit homes, police interrogation rooms and crime scenes....

Souza became a folk hero, a superstar, and eventually was elected to the state legislature. Although the state was unable to do much about the rampant crime, the federal government was. Their investigation soon pointed to the local police and judiciary. Hundreds were arrested and soon fingers were pointing all over the place - including some at Souza.  How had he often reached the crime scenes ahead of the police? Apparently, with the help of his son, he was behind some of the murders himself in order to build up the ratings for his program. The post finished with:

Up to now Souza and Son, Inc. haven’t been brought to trial. And it wouldn’t surprise many people in the corrupt State of Amazonas if they never are.

A fascinating story! No mystery reader would ever believe a plot like that! In fact, Souza was charged, but died of a rare medical condition before the trial. His son was convicted though.

A few days later, Stan posted an invitation to the African bush, and there have been a lot of posts along those lines over the years...

Another member of the inaugural team was Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the wonderfully inventive Icelandic crime author. Her first blog expressed her serious doubts about her ability to write a blog at all, but from that post on she kept us all in stitches as she focused on the strange and entertaining aspects of life in Iceland. 

Dan Waddell was also in the first batch with his intriguing genealogy detective. He brought thoughts on writing as well as an English perspective to many interesting opics.

Tim Hallinan
brought Thailand to the party. I'm sure I'm not alone in missing his wonderful series set there. True Sunshine Noir of the first order.

Jeff Siger joined us a year later. Hard to believe that he hasn't been with us forever. I guess it just feels like it's forever... Jokes aside, he's a great writer who really brings Greece to life, and a great guy. There's no way we'd let him leave even if he wanted to!

That team drove MIE until the end of 2012, and if this post took longer to prepare than I expected, it was partly due to Blogger's cumbersome search procedure but mainly because I kept rereading intriguing posts from that era. Many things have changed, but the philosophy stays the same.

In 2013, Dan moved on to other interests, but Caro joined MIE and has entertained and intrigued us with her Scottish humour and clever thoughts. She can't leave either. We'd hold the Haggis hostage! 

2013 brought the tragic illness and death of Leighton Gage. We knew we had to carry on and Annamaria stepped into his slot, happy to join us but bitterly sad about the circumstances. She has brought us historical novels on Africa and South America, cheered us up when we needed it (which is a lot of the time!), and posts on all manner of things, past and present, from her beloved New York, Florence, East Africa...

2014 saw more changes. Sadly, the combination of a rocketing writing career and a demanding senior engineering job, eventually forced Yrsa to bow out. We lost a super blogger, but kept a super friend. (Some of us will be lucky enough to be joining her at Iceland Noir in a couple of weeks.) But Lisa Brackmann came in on alternate Wednesdays with her fascinating views of China. We also gained Zoe Sharp bringing the tense UK thriller perspective with her unforgettable, unstoppable Charlie Fox. 

The next year Sujata joined us. Her broad knowledge of India and wonderful recipes are both big hits. 

 Susan came in on alternate Sundays with amazing tours of Japan.

We also gained some very talented African authors, first Leye Adenle with his gritty look at the underworld of Lagos in Nigeria, and then Kwei Quartey with his quirky detective Darko Dawson and more recently with Emma Djan - whose first outing grabbed an Edgar nomination.

Our most recent addition is Craig Sisterton whose encyclopedic knowledge of crime fiction from the antipodes - and a lot beyond that - adds a critical and very enjoyable string to the bow.

And that brings us up to date. I guess the team has evolved over the years, but the idea is still the same - mysteries and thrillers from around the globe. Murder and good writing is everywhere!


  1. Happy birthday, here's to many more years of international community! I read crime fiction to discover new places, new countries and cultures, so I love your blog.

  2. So happy to hear this from you! Thanks. We appreciate it!

  3. I was a fan of this blog in its early years and was so honored to join. I feel so invested in what we are doing--sharing the unique places we live and write about, and any other thing that strikes us. Also this blog has been a place that has a lot of great 'guest authors' posting, so it's truly a meeting place...Rick's Cafe (or should I say Leighton's Cafe)?

  4. There is nothing I can add to this wonderful tribute to our past twelve years other than say MIE has done far more for me than bring joy to my writing life, it's brought me genuine friendships I shall treasure forever!