I'm writing this from the lobby of a Baltimore hotel. It's the last day of Bouchercon and I've had a blast. This is going to be VERY short, but parts one and two will follow as I get home on Wednesday.
My first Bouchercon was Philadelphia, 1989. After many years and many cities, the convention now feels like an exuberant family reunion, only with gin and chocolate instead of Aunt Maude’s ghastly Jello salad or Uncle Alfred’s pickled eggs. We mourn the generation that’s passed, we greet our surviving cousins—even those we once bickered with—with delight, and we peer over our bifocals and wonder how we’re related to all these youngsters running around the table.
Normally, I skip most of the panels and hang with my friends in the bar or hospitality room, but this year I looked in on several. The topics may change—how to query by eMail rather than the US Postal Service, or using Google’s “image” button to research the interior of an airplane hanger—but the helpful collegiality hasn’t. As always, some were outrageously funny, others deadly serious, a few were earnestly dull.
As I wrote above, I moderated “Catch a Rising Star,” aka Best First Novel Nominees. Tana French (Into the Woods, which won the Anthony) was unable to make it back from Ireland, and Lisa Lutz (The Spellman Files) was taken sick at the last minute and had to cancel I love doing this panel because it makes me read books that are darker than I would choose for myself. I found myself drawn into the mean streets of Chicago by Sean Chercover and Marcus Sakey (Big City, Bad Blood and The Blade Itself), both more noir than I usually read. Despite the violence and gore, I laughed out loud over Craig McDonald’s Head Games. Anyone who can weave three generations of Bushes, Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, and the head of Pancho Villa into a thriller can be forgiven his name.
I mean, do we really need another M[a]cD[d]onald? The mystery world already has trouble remembering how to spell Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, and Gregory Mcdonald. Now we have Craig McDonald. No two names styled the same. I suggested that Craig change his name to Donald Craig, but he just laughed.
My second panel was moderated by Louise Ure and included Dorothy Cannell, Susan Dunlap, and Gillian Roberts. We agreed that we’d introduce each other. Louise was worried about introducing Dorothy. “I’ve never met her. Does she have a sense of humor?” Thirty seconds into Dorothy’s introduction of me, she had everyone ROTF. I then introduced
Susan, Susan introduced Gillian, who introduced Louise. First panel I’ve ever been on where the introductions took up half the session. Except for Louise, we’ve known each other for years and I’m afraid we took serious liberties with the truth.
I did take my camera and I did take several dozen pictures, but except for this one of Dorothy Cannell and Daniel Stashower at Poe's tomb, most of them came out blurred. I’ve been pointed toward Sandy Parshall’s Flickr site though and she took some excellent pictures. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/guppies/). Check it out.