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Scottish crime writer Robertson takes a break from the mean streets of Glasgow—the site of his series—for The Last Refuge, his stand alone mystery that takes place in the Faroe Islands

 

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Although Scotland has no shortage of remote islands battered by lashing seas, Craig Robertson sets his latest in the Faroes, hundreds of miles north of Scotland and east of Iceland—literally, the ends of the earth. It’s here, in this protectorate of Denmark, which has the lowest murder rate in the world, that Craig’s central character John Callum finds himself accused of killing a Faronese citizen.

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Just what was that perfume—described as a combination of fresh mown hay, musk and lavender—Selene Bourgani wore that so captured Christopher Marlowe Cobb when he met her on the Lusitania? We asked Denise Hamilton, award-winning mystery writer and perfumista

 

This is how Robert Olen Butler describes the scent that so intrigued Kit Cobb, “Nothing of flowers. This was the smell of the green things in the world, the unadorned things of a field, of a forest, hay newly mown, and beneath this smell a musky scent, but something faintly sweet as well, lavender perhaps.” To us, this is a classic perfume mystery and the best detective we can think of to put on the case is Denise Hamilton so it was to her we took the query.

In a reply to an email, Denise wrote:

“Lavender has always been a very common ingredient in men’s colognes. What you describe might be a classic fougere such as Fougere Royale by Houbigant, which is considered one of the first perfumes (dates to 1872) and from which springs the genre of perfumes/colognes for men known as ‘fougeres‘ from the French word fern.

 

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Fougeres can be very refined or they can have what some of us call ‘the dreaded barbershop accord’ which smells cheap and somewhat overpowering and cloying. But they are characterized by a kind of loamy, ferny note undergirded with lavender, (which can turn soapy) and musk and spices. Others on the perfume board[s] decided it must be Jicky. Though Jicky has a decided vanilla note, so not sure I agree. But that’s in the drydown. The initial blast would be more lavender and herbs.”

 

Speaking of Mysteries will be talking to Denise soon about her short story “The Thinking Machine,” in In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, her own mysteries and, of course, perfume.

 

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When it comes to writers of mysteries and thrillers, Bouchercon is an embarrassment of riches

 

This week Speaking of Mysteries is stepping back from the microphone and traveling 35 miles or so south to Long Beach, CA to join fellow fans of the genre at Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach. Which means that there won’t be a new episode next Monday. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is the launch of SoM co-creator Les Klinger and Laurie R. King’s In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, an anthology of Holmes-and-Watson-inspired stories by contemporary authors.

We’ll be back November 24. Upcoming guests include Steph Cha, whose second Juniper Song mystery, Beware, Beware, was released earlier this fall; and Scottish mystery writer Craig Robertson, whose Last Refuge takes readers to the ends of the earth (quite literally) for a really satisfying tale of revenge and redemption.

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According to the critic of mysteries and thrillers for The Wall Street Journal, we are in a Golden Age of crime fiction

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Who better to discuss the state of mysteries and thrillers than a critic who specializes in the genre? The topics Tom discusses run the gamut: from the greats of yesteryear—Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald—to current authors writing historical mysteries—Kelli Stanley, Robert Harris, Alan Furst, Simon Sebag-Montefiore and Robert Olen Butler—and crime fiction writers now available in translation—Fuminon Nakamura and Shuichi Yoshinda. Oh, and along the way he also weighed in on Sophie Hannah’s turn as the grande dame of mysteries, Agatha Christie, and the consistent excellence of Michael Connelly.

Tom Nolan’s most recent book is Three Chords for Beauty’s Sake, a biography of Artie Shaw. Next summer, Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, co-edited with Suzanne Marrs, will be published.

photo of Tom Nolan ©David Strick

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Murder, dismemberment, stalking and blackmail are all part of the journey The Forgers takes through the territory where love and books overlap.

 

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If the first five words of The Forgers—”They never found his hands.”—don’t intrigue you, you might want to check to see if you have a pulse.

Photo of Bradford Morrow ©Jessamine Chan

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The man with—at least for fans of crime fiction and thrillers—one of the best jobs in the world, shares his opinions on the state of genre

Tom Nolan, whose biography of California noir writer Ross MacDonald was nominated for an Edgar Award, talks mysteries, thrillers, must-reads and gives his honest opinion of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Look for the interview soon on the SoM website and in iTunes.

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The Anthony Award-nominated YA writer talks about Hero Complex, the second novel in the Keaton School series.

 

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Margaux’s main character, Devon Mackintosh, is a fish out of water at her boarding school, which gives her a unique perspective. Pretty handy when you’re trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious death school authorities would prefer everyone accept as accidental. Some of the best writing in genre fiction is being done in the YA category, so why should young people have all the fun?

 

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