Posts Tagged Mystery Writers of America

Michael Connelly – In the Shadow of the Master

(, Feb. 15, Diane Scharper)

For the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, the Mystery Writers of America have published this collection of 16 of Poe’s best works with often-insightful commentary by well-known mystery writers. As editor Michael Connelly explains it, Poe’s death in Baltimore in 1849 is shrouded in mystery, as is much of his literary output. Ill, incoherent and dressed in clothes that were not his, 40-year-old Poe could have been mistaken for several of the protagonists of his short stories. Poe’s bad temper, excessive drinking and unpredictable nature would fit perfectly into the plots of narratives included here, like “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” But Poe was much more than a reprobate. As Stephen King, Laura Lippman and others discuss their indebtedness to Poe, one realizes the extent of his greatness. Even literary giants like D.H. Lawrence, who admired Poe’s impassioned probing of the human soul, fell under his sway.

Order your copy of In the Shadow of the Master from

Essays crow about Poe

(, Jan. 21, Dinesh Ramde)

“In the Shadow of the Master” (William Morrow, 416 pages), edited by Michael Connelly: The beating of the telltale heart still echoes beneath the floorboards. The cask of amontillado still eludes the wretched Fortunato. The raven still croaks, “Nevermore.”

No matter how many times you read them, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales never seem to lose their macabre magic.

And so, in honor of the master’s 200th birthday, which was Monday, the Mystery Writers of America have compiled a volume of his works – from the best-loved to the more obscure – along with short essays by award-winning authors who cite him as their inspiration.

“In the Shadow of the Master” was edited by Michael Connelly and includes vignettes by mystery authors from Sue Grafton to Stephen King.

Their essays provide a range of insightful observations. Some authors reminisce about their favorite Poe tales, while others recall their first exposure to his stories. Still others have come back to Poe’s works after many years and describe how their reactions have evolved as they’ve grown older.

Most of the guest essays sparkle. Each is about two to five pages, a quick read, and each resonates with an unmistakable passion for Poe.

One author, Lisa Scottoline, likens high-school exposure to Poe to broccoli for teenagers – as something forced upon kids because it’s good for them. The lesson she learned after Poe’s “William Wilson” inspired her own evil-twin story. Eat your vegetables.

A particularly stirring vignette by Laura Lippman traces the legend of the Poe Toaster. He or she is the mysterious figure who celebrates Poe’s birthday every year by stealthily leaving three red roses and half a bottle of cognac on his grave in downtown Baltimore.

Lippman once kept watch at the grave and finally caught a glimpse of the figure. But she refuses to describe the elusive fan, respecting the person’s mystery the same way that person honors the king of mysteries.

All Poe’s classics are here: “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Raven.”

So are a number of other works, lesser-known but still distinctively Poe. “A Descent Into the Maelstrom,” “The Masque of the Red Death” and “Ligeia” may not have the same name recognition as his more famous stories, but they are no less gripping.

A number of the vignettes speak of an experience that certainly rings true for this reviewer. Poe was required reading in our sixth-grade class. When we were that young, his formidable vocabulary made some of his stories a little too complex to fully appreciate.

But rereading the tales as an adult brings a fresh sense of admiration. Few authors can match his disturbing detail, few can create such disconcerting worlds of madness.

That’s why the Mystery Writers of America named its annual award the Edgar Award.

The only thing that separates “In the Shadow of the Master” from any other Poe anthology is the 20 vignettes, most of which are worthy additions. Their collective effect is to create a sense of camaraderie, as though a group of friends has gathered in communal respect of Poe’s genius.

If you just want to read Poe, any anthology will do. But readers who have loved Poe since they first explored his works will feel a special appreciation for this volume.

Stephen Cannell – An Introduction

Stephen J. Cannell is the bestselling author of twelve novels, including the critically acclaimed Shane Scully series, which includes White Sister, Cold Hit, Vertical Coffin, Hollywood Tough, The Viking Funeral, The Tin Collectors and Three Shirt Deal. In addition, Cannell is the author of Runaway Heart, The Devil’s Workshop, Riding the Snake, King Con, Final Victim, and The Plan. His stand alone novel At First Sight:A Novel of Obsession released in July, 2008.
An Emmy award-winning writer/producer and Chairman of Cannell Studios, Cannell overcame severe dyslexia to become one of television’s most prolific writers. In a highly successful career that spans three decades, he has created or co-created more than 40 shows, of which he has scripted more than 450 episodes and produced or executive produced more than 1,500 episodes. His hits include The Rockford Files, Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hunter, Riptide, Hardcastle & McCormick, 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy, The Commish, Profit, and the hit syndicated shows, Renegade and Silk Stalkings.
During the past few years, Cannell has received numerous awards, including the Saturn Award – Life Career Award (2004), The Marlow Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Writers of America (2005), and the WGA Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement (2006), and the NATPE Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award (2007).
Cannell is an avid spokesperson on Dyslexia, and is a third generation Californian who currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Marcia, and their three children.
Signed Stephen Cannell books are available at

Ian Rankin – An Introduction

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh and has since been employed as grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist and punk musician.His first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987 and the Rebus books, now been translated into 22 languages, are increasingly popular in the USA. Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is a past winner of the prestigious Chandler-Fulbright Award, as well two CWA short-story ‘Daggers’ and the 1997 CWA Macallan Gold Dagger for Fiction for Black & Blue, which was also shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America ‘Edgar’ award for best novel. Dead Souls, the tenth novel in the series, was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in 1999.


and Mortal Causes have been televised on ITV, starring John Hannah as Inspector Rebus. His 3-part documentary (more…)