Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, it's Carnival Time!
You do know "carnival" literally means "without meat," right? Somehow I think Barbara Fister had meatier ideas in mind when she instituted the Carnival of the Criminal Minds, that wonderful bimonthly sojourn which travels from one crime fiction blog to another setting up a binary circus tent with URL streamers. So let's use the dictionary definition of carnival as "any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment." I particularly like that "merrymaking" part (although does anyone actually use the word merrymaking these days?).
I must admit my real-life experiences with carnivals are pretty pathetic. I remember going to one of those small county fairs when I was 10, only to get stuck upside down on the type of roller coaster that has cages, feeling like a little like a lab rat on display, albeit a dizzy one. When I finally got down, I proceeded to barf like a freshman. Probably shouldn't have had that cotton candy first.
Barbara's idea to have a crime-fiction carnival moving progressively through the blogosphere is a grand one, and it's been enjoyable to watch the little cyber-carnies trucking into the next blog-town, unpacking all their props, rides, and other goodies. When I began to think about my turn to host the festivities, I thought it might be helpful to showcase all the good mystery reference blogs out there, since as the name attests, this blog "In Reference to Murder" was created with that idea in mind, but the multitalented Peter Rozovsky over at Detectives Without Borders beat me to the Punch (sans Judy). Then I thought it could be interesting to highlight the best author blogs, but Julia Buckley in her Mysterious Musings had the same idea. As a matter of fact, I'm often overwhelmed by the depth of talent and knowledge among people who write crime-fiction blogs--many of whom will be featured during the Carnival's tour--so much so, it often takes my breath away (or is that the asthma? hard to tell).
So what's a thematically-challenged carnie to do? The heart-shaped light bulb went off when I realized my turn came on Valentine's Day--OK the day after, but 'tis the season, after all. And everyone *lurvs* VD, don't they? Of course, in the world of mystery and crime fiction, candy and flowers are often tangled up with murder and mayhem. But we like it that way. Experts do say dark chocolate is good for you, do they not?
Our first stop is The Rap Sheet, where J. Kingston Pierce asked the question, "If you could be kissing any character from crime fiction this Valentine’s Day, who would it be?" and assembled a list of 40 possibilities in a poll, 20 female (V.I. Warshawski, Tess Monaghan, Peggy Fair, et al.) and 20 male (Lew Archer, Adam Dalgliesh, Dave Robicheau, and others). And the winners are...well, you go check for yourself. I don't want to spoil the surprise.
Bloggers Patti Abbott, Aldo Calcagno, and Gerald So invited both published and aspiring mystery writers to post short stories on the Web about love and crime with an index to be published on The Day, which Patti and and Gerald both posted on their blogs, including their own stories, titled "Tongues" and "Connect the Dots," respectively.
For another Valentine's Day noir story, The Dark Phantom has an offering for you, and the blog's title photo is perfect for our Carnival.
Over at Women of Mystery, Clare Toohey offered up some "Dripping Red Valentines For You" in several categories (classic, thriller, noir), such as the novel Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence, in which Midwife Hannah Trevor investigates the death of a girl found strangled on Valentine's Day in Revolutionary War Maine.
Ann Parker, an author who pens historical mysteries, and one of The Lady Killers, provided a two-part feature (here and here) on "The Etiquette of Wooing (1880s-style)." Always remember, "A gentleman should not be introduced to a lady, unless her permission has been previously obtained."
For a truly good Valentine's Day book cover, check out Indie Crime's entry.
Mystery author Elaine Viets over at the Lipstick Chronicles has a humorous look at Valentine's Day from a personal viewpoint (and a cautionary tale for you male folks out there).
Inkspot author Julia Buckley looks at "The Mystery of Romance," with a nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a look at great mystery-fiction pairings.
The Jungle Red Writers' Roberta Isleib posted some "Valentine's Day Fun," her "Valentine’s Day card to readers and friends," with some fun links and a list of the UK Romantic Novelists' Association most romantic books ever written.
Several blogs wrote about the passing of romantic suspense author Phyllis A. Whitney this past week. Julia Buckley at Poe's Deadly Daughters, and Oline Cogdill, the mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, are two of note.
The folks at Bookends Literary Agency have a Valentine for unpublished mystery authors. They're soliciting the first 100 words of manuscripts to be posted in their comments section. The winner will receive a critique of a query letter, synopsis, and first chapter. But hurry, the deadline is today, February 15th.
Next up, the Carnival will parade over to Jungle Red Writers, rather appropriate for our theme, since that blog comprises five lovely and successful ladies who "search for motive in life, love, fiction and reality." On with the show, gals!