Friday, July 1, 2022

A Suggestion for New Crime Fiction Awards

A Suggestion for New Crime Fiction Awards

 

There are a bunch of crime fiction awards out there, honoring some of the best novels and short stories published in the preceding year.  Some is specialize in specific subgenres, but with hardly any exceptions, they all cover complete works.

 

This is why I suggest some new awards, focusing on specific aspects of the works.  I’ve noticed that many works may excel in some aspects, such as prose style, while failing in others, like plotting and cluing.  Meanwhile, some books never receive award nominations despite triumphing spectacularly at some features of creative writing. 



 

 

In these awards, authors or publishers would submit the whole book in some cases, or just a chapter or some pages, depending on the category.  Here are some of my suggestions:

 

CHARACTERIZATION

 

One of the biggest problems with crime novels (and many other novels) is that the characters are flat or trite. Additionally, how many recent fictional detectives have become fixtures of the public imagination on a par with the great sleuths of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction?  This is why there needs to be a Best New Detective award, for the first novel appearance of a great, original detective, and a Best Recurring Detective award, for the newest appearance of a detective in a series that has at least two entries.  Memorability, originality, and uniqueness will be qualifying factors, as well as character development or general likeability of recurring detectives in series novels.  Not only that, but the judges should ask the question, how would this book be different if an alternative sleuth were inserted in the existing detective’s place?

 

In a comparable vein, there would be a Best Sidekick or Assistant award for the best “Watson” character, and a Best Villain award, not just for the killer, but for antihero protagonists, master criminals, and generally unpleasant people who may not be actual criminals.  I would also propose a Best Relationship award, celebrating not just romantic relationships, but friendships, family relationships, and even human/pet connections.  This could also include antagonistic hero/villain relationships, boss/employee relationships, and any other great connection between two characters.  I’d also push for a Best Character Arc for a single-appearance character in a novel.

 

 

PLOTTING

 

I’d appreciate an award celebrating the Most Original Premise, as well as Best Clue, honoring subtle, clever, or tricky pieces of evidence pointing in the direction of the killer.  Best Denouement, featuring the reveal and explanation of the clues, would also be a worthy idea, as would Most Shocking Moment.

 

OTHER TECHNICAL SKILLS

 

Best Dialogue would go to the snappiest, wittiest, or most distinctive words spoken by characters, as would Best Action Scene and Most Gripping First Chapter, for first chapters that make readers really want to read the rest of the book.  I believe the Edgars had a Best Cover Art at one point, and that really needs to be brought back.  I also recommend a Best Cover Blurb for the paragraphs summarizing the book that most make readers want to read the book.

 

These are just a few ideas, as characterization, plotting, and other little details tend to be unappreciated, in my opinion.  

 

What are your thoughts?  Would you like to see these awards?  Do you have any ideas for other categories?

 

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s anthology Of Course He Pushed Him and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories Volumes 1 & 2 was released on June 22nd. His first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released by MX Publishing.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Of Course He Pushed Him: The Complete Collection Has Been Published!

Of Course He Pushed Him: The Complete Collection Has Been Published!

 

Of Course He Pushed Him and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories Volumes 1 & 2 has just been published!  It consists of thirteen Sherlock Holmes pastiches, including some historical figures and other fictional worlds in crossover.  The hardcover edition came out this week, but Volumes 1 and 2 will be released later this fall in separate paperback editions.  Special thanks to Steve Emecz and MX Publishing for making this possible!  Please take a look!

 





 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s anthology Of Course He Pushed Him and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories Volumes 1 & 2 was released on June 22nd. His first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released by MX Publishing.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

 

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Preview of Of Course He Pushed Him

A Preview of Of Course He Pushed Him

 

With my anthology Of Course He Pushed Him coming out later this year, I’d like to present a brief preview, coming from my introduction to the collection:

 

Sherlock Holmes has been a part of my life ever since I was a child.  I have always loved the movie and television adaptations, the radio plays, and especially, the original stories.  However, ever since I was about ten years old, I have been very disappointed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, due to the fact that he got his work so incredibly wrong.  By reading a book introduction, I learned that Conan Doyle believed that the Sherlock Holmes stories were beneath him, and he had grown to loathe his detective.  I didn’t know what had happened to lead such a talented man so horribly astray, but even at the age of ten, I knew that Conan Doyle was horribly, inexplicably misguided.  How could a seemingly intelligent fellow come to believe that these wonderful stories weren’t worth writing?  How could he dislike such a brilliant character as Holmes?  To this day, I still don’t have a convincing answer to those questions.

A few years ago, I saw an advertisement from Belanger Books asking for submissions to one of their anthologies. They were looking for new Sherlock Holmes stories, and I, having a bit of extra time, decided to try my hand at one.  After my first tale was accepted, MX Publishing asked me to submit to another anthology, so I did, and I kept on writing.  




 

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released on November 3rd.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books on September 7th.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

Friday, June 10, 2022

When Is It O.K. to Complain?

When Is It O.K. to Complain?

 

Lately, a lot of critics have taken some heat from major media outlets for disliking certain works.  Some have criticized recent television shows, and have been singled out in prominent magazines and websites for being too negative, or for having malicious motives in complaining.




 

Some of the venues I write reviews for prefer that I write positive reviews that encourage people to go out and buy good books and DVD’s, though if I want to criticize a work that really deserves censure, that’s totally fine.  Yet I’ve noticed when critics much more famous and influential than I am sharpen their knives, there are increasing numbers of public relations campaigns funded by major entertainment outlets, arguing that the negative feedback is unjustified, and just plain wrong.

 

I’ve noticed that increasingly, it’s hard for a critic to escape the allegation that negative criticism is toxic.  There are Internet memes arguing that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.  The people who support this perspective may believe that they’re making the world a more positive place, but in reality, if we can’t turn a critical eye towards problems with creative works, what might that mean for how we address and confront real-world problems and injustices?  If we can’t say that something is flawed, is our praise for what is good really genuine?

 

I’ll have more to say about this in a later post, but I want to close with this thought.  Writing reviews about works I despise is easy.  Writing reviews about works I love is fun.  It’s writing reviews about works I’m largely indifferent to that’s really difficult.

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released on November 3rd.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books on September 7th.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

“Of Course He Pushed Him” – Not One, But THREE Books

“Of Course He Pushed Him” – Not One, But THREE Books

 

 

Following up on my previous post, my anthology Of Course He Pushed Him will be published as not just one, but three books.  There’s a “Complete Collection” of thirteen stories, but it will also be published as two separate volumes.  





Volume One will consist of seven traditional Sherlock Holmes pastiches:

 

The Diogenes Club Poltergeist

 

The Man in the Maroon Suit

 

Merridew of Abominable Memory

 

Intruders at Baker Street

 

The Heinous Half-Crowns

 

The Switched String

 

The Bitter Gravestones

 

Volume Two will contain six stories featuring crossovers and alternative histories:

 

Of Course He Pushed Him

 

The Adventure of the Villainous Victim

 

The Chapel of the Holy Blood

 

The Adventure of The Specious Spouse

 

The Search for Mycroft’s Successor

 

The Outline of Mystery

 

Volume One and Volume Two will be published as two separate books, and there will also be “The Complete Collection” of all thirteen stories.  For more information, check out the MX Publishing website.  Once again, the official release date will be announced soon!

 

 

 

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released on November 3rd.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books on September 7th.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

Coming This Fall– “Of Course He Pushed Him”– The Anthology!

Coming This Fall– “Of Course He Pushed Him”– The Anthology!

 

As regular readers of this blog know, over the past few years I’ve been writing lots of Sherlock Holmes-themed stories for various publications.  Later this year, MX Publishing will release a collection of these stories.  Titled Of Course He Pushed Him, named for a story where Watson is suspected of murdering Holmes at Reichenbach Falls, this anthology will contain thirteen previously published tales, originally featured in volumes of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, various Belanger Books anthologies, and Mystery Weekly (now titled Mystery Magazine).

 

Here’s the cover art!

 

 


 

 

The book will be released in the coming months– the exact release date will be announced soon!

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released on November 3rd.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books on September 7th.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.

 

 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Best Children’s Mysteries

The Best Children’s Mysteries

 

My interest in mysteries started at a very young age.  I have discussed my love of Mathnet earlier on this blog.  But mysteries written for children are a very special subgenre.  In children’s mysteries, the author usually can’t include any serious violence, especially murder.  Not only that, but a children’s mystery often has to feature a child protagonist.  If you have a child as a detective, how does that young person perform a proper investigation?

 

There were several series of children’s mysteries I enjoyed growing up– the Encyclopedia Brown books, which required a wide knowledge of trivia to solve; and the Boxcar Children mysteries, which often did not include actual crimes or detection, were frequently on my reading list.  But my favorite children’s mysteries, written for children, featuring children investigating, were E.W. Hildick’s McGurk Mysteries.

 

The McGurk Mysteries were a series featuring a group of young children who ran their own detective agency and did a remarkable job solving crimes.  At first there were four members of the group: Jack McGurk, the leader of the group with a lot of self-confidence, a manipulative streak, and a surprisingly effective sleuth.  Joey Rockaway, the narrator of the group and the organizer of information.  Wanda Greig, a tree-climbing expert.  The final member of the main group was Willie Sandowsky, whose preternatural skill for smelling proves frequently useful.  Several books into the series, Gerald “Brains” Bellingham, a technology and science whiz, joins the group, followed a bit later by the sixth and last member, Mari Yoshimura, a ventriloquist.




 

The mysteries ranged from catching bank robbers to retrieving stolen jewelry to finding missing to proving a pet cat is innocent of killing birds.  Some of the books are quite dark, involving kidnappings and preventing murders before they happened.  The books were funny, with terrific characters, and though they were geared towards children, Hildick never spoke down to children.

 

Unfortunately, all of these books are out of print, and I worry that they will soon be lost.  Hopefully, they can be brought back to the public attention so a new generation can enjoy them.

 

 

–Chris Chan

 

 

Chris Chan’s first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released on November 3rd.  His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books on September 7th.  His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there).  It is also available in a Kindle edition.