It's both the Day of the Dead and the day after Halloween, a perfect time to pay your four bits (adjusted for inflation) and Fall into the latest Carnival of the Criminal Minds, on the heels of its last stop at Crime Scene NI. I must say gorging on Halloween candy washed down with a little Jack Daniels until you barf would be an easier task than narrowing down the crime fiction site notables. It's a little like a teenage boy at Mardi Gras looking for mischief—oh the possibilities! Yet such was Barbara Fister's mandate in creating the roving Carnival, so narrow down I must, interspersed with some other Halloween goodies from the candy bag.
Have you ever lain awake at night unable to sleep, wondering if there were any mysteries actually set around Halloween? I'm pretty sure I have—although it might also have been something I ate (see note about Halloween candy above). I'll save you some insomnia because there are several such mysteries to choose from. Don's Stuff listed 25 to get you started, and if that isn't enough, the Springfield Library, Holiday Murders, and Cozy Mystery sites have gobs more, with titles from the likes of Ed McBain, Agatha Christie, Tony Hillerman, and Ellis Peters. Tums are extra.
2009 in the world of crime fiction will be the Year of Poe. The Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog is jumping the gun with some tidbits about the priciest Poe books, a Poe tribute in January by actor John Astin (of The Addams Family fame), Christopher Walken reciting "The Raven" and other spooky morsels. Meanwhile, The Library Journal blog asks for help in solving a 166-year-old literary mystery related to Poe.
HALLOWEEN GOODY #1: Halloween began as Samhain (Summer’s End), an ancient Celtic festival, although it wasn't until much later that many of the icons associated with the celebration came into being, such as the black cat. Although in the UK, black cats were believed to bring good luck, the opposite was true in the American colonies, where cats were thought to be either reincarnated or shapeshifting witches. Wonder what those early anal Pilgrims would have to say about black cat cookies?
Horror and dark suspense are certainly as appropros for both Halloween and the Day of the Dead as crime fiction, and The Dark Phantom Review featured interviews with horror authors, publishers, ezine editors, and booksellers throughout the month of October.
Speaking of horror, Indie Crime had a great Halloweenish cover; the Women in Crime chose their favorite horror movies, and the Women of Mystery scared up some horrible women, er Women of Horror.
HALLOWEEN GOODY #2: Check out Bruce Zalkin's collection of some of the worst Halloween costumes of all time, many of which may bring back some fond memories for those of us who are older than dirt. For more memories of favorite Halloween costumes of yore, check out this posting on the Murder She Writes blog, and from Cute Overload, Why Pets Hate Costumes.
One of the Women of Mystery took a trip to Salem and the Witch Museum, which tells the tale of the the 20 women condemned to either hang or be pressed to death, whose fates were intertwined with a servant from Barbados named Tituba.
For a witch of truly galactic proportions, check out this magical APOD.
What better way to celebrate the season than with ghost stories? The Material Witness blog showcases the Everyman Library's book of Ghost Stories, and guest blogger D.S. Dollman at the Stiletto Gang channels the ghost of Elizabeth I.
HALLOWEEN GOODY #3: For the more fashion-concious, skip the retro Halloween costume and just go with one of these scary handbags (and no, I don't mean Prada or Hermès, although those are pretty scary, all right—$37,000 for a Hermès Birkin bag adorned with orange crocodile skin and trimmed with palladium hardware? Yep, scary.).
Kevin Guilfoile of The Outfit: Collective wrote about "Much of Madness, and More of Sin," commenting on how for the last three years, the final week in October has given Chicago its own version of Day of the Dead, with crime victims Stacy Peterson, Dr. David Cornbleet, and most recently, the Hudson family slayings. And since Chicago this year holds the dubious distinction of the nation's highest murder rate, it just goes to show that true evil never takes a holiday.
Of course crime and fear of things that go bump in the night aren't new inventions. The folks at Murderous Musings provide some historical background to help establish the plot and setting.
HALLOWEEN GOODY #4: Extreme pumpkins! Tired of dull, inspired Jack-o-Lanterns? Try one of these on for size (the Death Star is way cool), or one of these, or these. And if you're just plain tired of anything having to do with pumpkins, check out these contest entries for Whatever-o-Lanterns.
The world of writing and publishing may quite possibly be a scarier business than undertaking (mortuarying? medical examining?), as J.A. Konrath points out the scariest thing that can happen to writers, and agent Jennifer Jackson strikes further fear into the hearts of writers everywhere with her list of query statistics.
This is frenzy season for murder-mystery dinner parties and related fetes. "A Murder Mystery in Old Allegheny" near Pittsburgh actually takes place tonight and features a progressive murder of sorts taking place in three of the neighborhood's old Victorians. What makes it particularly interesting and relevant to the Carnival is that one of the mansions is where famed mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart penned her first novel, The Circular Staircase, published in 1908.
Sarah Weinman offered up some Halloween bonbons with links to articles about the appeal of vampires, a literary Halloween tour and Bruce Springsteen's holiday offering for fans. The Rap Sheet has even more links for Halloween reads and Peter Rozovsky's latest Noir at the Bar.
HALLOWEEN GOODY #5: It might be too late for this year's Halloween party, but it's never too early to start planning for next year, especially since we now have essentially one long year-round holiday, NewPresiTinePatrEasterIndieColumboWeenThanksMas. So start lining up your fog machines, coffins, doors of doom, and grilled rat treats before they're all gone.
J.D. Rhoades of Murderati took a look at conspiracy theories and how we can't live without them. J.D. was on a panel at Thrillerfest moderated by Barry Eisler that focused on the subject, and decided to cast a little downer on the proceedings—How dare he? The nerve!—by concluding that instead of conspiracies, "I believe in stupidity, randomness and chaos. That's what causes most of the misery in the world."
And finally, Detectives Beyond Borders takes a look at The Ghosts of Ireland, the debut novel from Stuart Neville. As blogger Peter Rozovsky adds, "The chapters make chilling and evocative use of both parts of the novel's title, which makes Neville the second Northern Ireland crime writer I've read recently to explore the dramatic possibilities of ghosts."
So, Boo! (In the best possible sense) And save a little of that Jack Daniels for me. I think I OD'ed on Reese Cups again.
Up next for the Carnival—Karen at Austcrime.